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of Jlnrtha 

John Frederick Nims 

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LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 


A Portrait of the Artist as the Enemy 

Dichter. O sprich mir nicht von jener bunten Menge, 
Bei deren Anblick uns der Geist entflieht! 

Goethe, "Vorspiel auf dem Theater," Faust I. 

Wyndham Lewis 




© 1957 by Yale University Press, Inc. 
Printed in the United States of America by 
Vail-Ballou Press, Inc., Binghamton, N.Y. 
All rights reserved. This book may not be 
reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form 
(except by reviewers for the public press), 
without written permission from the publishers. 
Library of Congress catalogue card number: 57-6347 

To the memory of my uncle 

y.'ho first introduced me to the work of Wyndham Lewis 



The Passionate Climate 

The Singing Blood 


Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire 
Selected Writings of Gerard de Nerval 


Parade of Pleasure 


Born of the Sun 


The Passionate Land 

The Dispossessed 

Rage on the Bar 


Foreword ix 

Acknowledgments xv 


The Men of 1914, the Detached Spectator, 

and the Joy of Protest 3 


1. A Study of the State 31 

2. The "Group-Rhythm" 44 

3. The Democratic Conceit 60 

4. A Compromise with the Herd 70 

5. "Mister Ivory Tower" 90 


6. A Sort of Life 105 

7. Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 115 

8. The Puce Monster 141 

9. The Intelligent Few 153 


10. The Many against the One 161 

11. Master Joys and Windy Nous 168 

12. On the Side of Common Sense 189 

13. A Thief of the Real 202 


14. The Immense Novices 209 

15. A Failure of Energy 226 


Wyndham Lewis 

16. The Tragic Impulse 

17. The External Approach 

18. Time Stands Still 







"The most fascinating personality of our time" was T. S. 
Eliot's description of Wyndham Lewis in The Egoist for September 
1918, an opinion recently reinforced in the Winter 1955 issue of 
The Hudson Review where he called Lewis "the most distinguished 
living English novelist." Speaking on the B.B.C. just after the last 
war, Geoffrey Grigson said: "If we could have a collected edition of 
Wyndham Lewis — a collecting of novels, stories, criticism, treatises, 
essays which have never been collected — we should understand, 
as perhaps we don't, his immense unity." V. S. Pritchett, on the other 
hand, denies this unity to Lewis' work; if one looks at the first and 
last sentences of any of his paragraphs, Pritchett asserts, "the two 
will rarely be found to have any logical connection." 

The present study attempts to discover that logical connection. 
It is divided into four parts, roughly on the basis of the interest Lewis 
has shown in each field. All his writings are covered to date, al- 
though perhaps one point should be mentioned: I have not asked 
my printer to follow the atomic typography of Blast. The checklist 
which concludes this work, while it is perhaps the most thorough of 
its kind to be attempted, does not pretend to be definitive; I know 
from letters of Lewis I have examined that there is at least one item 
outstanding. The chronology of this list is only threatened, I believe, 
when I have been unable to trace month of publication in the usual 
way and the work in question has been relegated to the end of its 
year. The secondary sources simply gather a fairly arbitrary selection 
of works with divergent views on Lewis that seem worth preserving. 
In this listing the ordinary contemporary review is not included, al- 
though reference to such may be found in the text. 

It is Wyndham Lewis' own contention that he has been a neglected 

X Wyndham Lewis 

writer, subject to a "conspiracy of silence." His views on this subject 
may be well known. As he has lately put it: "Let us say (not to 
indulge in truths that would lead straight to suits for libel) that the 
'conspiracy' dates from 1913 — it has been, as Mr. Ayrton says, 
long." This is a view he can scarcely take today, with his novels 
(both reissues and originals) pouring out annually on both sides 
of the Atlantic, being recommended by book societies and eulogized 
in special issues of little magazines, with the Tate Gallery staging a 
retrospective exhibition — an "apotheosis," as William Roberts has 
called it — of his work (and the Museum of Modern Art in New 
York featuring him regularly in shows of contemporary British 
masters), with The New Yorker devoting a seven-page article to 
Self Condemned (and Time Magazine one and a half pages), with 
The Times Literary Supplement in the course of a full-page panegyric 
on his work referring to The Human Age as "manifestly one of the 
great prose works of our time," with, finally, the last laurels of safe 
respectabihty descending on him in the form of a Civil List pension 
and an honorary degree from Leeds University. Indeed, during the 
course of my research, I have seldom encountered a more vociferous 
"conspiracy of silence" surrounding a contemporary writer. On the 
contrary, in his 1956 reissue of Forces in Modern British Literature, 
W. Y. Tindall believes that Lewis "has emerged from the precincts 
of fascism as the authentic voice of the postwar middle class." 

However this may be, it is certainly true that there has been little 
scholarly work done on Wyndham Lewis, certainly nothing ap- 
proaching the mass of serious studies that now hedge in, say, 
D. H. Lawrence. Nor has any bibliographical interest been taken in 
his work, as it has in the cases of EHot, Joyce, and Pound. More- 
over, there are letters which show Lewis somewhat dissatisfied by 
the kind of belletrist study that his work has so far drawn forth. 
It is also true that neither British nor American libraries have col- 
lected his work with much care. I could not help thinking it ironic 
that many of my slips requesting works by Lewis at the British 
Museum were returned to me marked, "Destroyed — By Enemy 

Foreword xi 

Action." Lastly, this side of his work has not been made easier by 
his having a namesake; even supposedly immaculate sources, such 
as Whitakefs Cumulative Book List or the PMLA American Bib- 
liography for 1955 (and the latter despite the article listed drawing 
attention to the similarity in names), both quite recently confuse 
our Percy Wyndham Lewis with Dominic Bevan Wyndham Lewis, 
chiefly known as a polite biographer. 

Possibly, in any case, the "conspiracy of silence," if it existed, was 
justified; I shall not pass judgment on that, although I hope that 
the evidence adduced in these pages will be considered before others 
do so. Because of the heat of controversy that has always surrounded 
Wyndham Lewis, for better or worse, we needed, I felt, more light 
on him. We needed a "primer" to his work. For not only is he a 
writer who does not take the uninitiated with him into some of the 
more audacious of his critical forays, he constantly, every few years, 
rewrites his career or revises the opinions of earlier books. These are, 
in a word, "Destroyed — By Enemy Action." As I go to press, in 
fact, he has just rewritten The Childermass (i.e. Book i of what 
is now The Human Age), so that it is all the more important to 
record what he did write at the time. There is, in a word, no need to 
plead for Wyndham Lewis. He himself has been doing that for al- 
most half a century. But exactly what he said, and when, these are 
questions that need honest and impartial answering, and for that 
reason much of what follows here is expository as well as critical. 

Many people, friends of the Enemy and others, have helped me 
with this book, and my indebtedness on the bibliographical side is 
especially heavy. I read chiefly at the following libraries : the Bodleian 
and the British Museum, in England; in America, the libraries of 
Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale universities, and the New 
York Public Library. The staffs of all these proved characteristically 
courteous and generous. The principal collection of manuscripts by 
Lewis I examined was the so-called Carlow CoHection, a large body 
of manuscripts, galleys, page proofs, and books bound for the late 
Lord Carlow by Stanley Bray of Sangorski and Sutcliffe; for per- 

xii Wyndham Lewis 

mission to consult these I am indebted to A. Zwemmer. I was also 
allowed to read an unpublished satire by Lewis at the Houghton 
Library of Harvard University. I was further able to inspect a large 
number of letters from Wyndham Lewis to various individuals at 
the following libraries: the Lockwood Memorial Library at the Uni- 
versity of Buffalo, the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University, 
the Pierpont Morgan Library, and in the Berg and Quinn collections 
of the New York Public Library. For especial assistance, and for 
particular patience with my bothering them over small points, I am 
grateful to W. H. Bond, curator of manuscripts at the Houghton 
Library at Harvard, to Herbert Cahoon, curator of autograph manu- 
scripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library, to Angus Wilson at the 
British Museum, to Sidney Ditzion of the Periodical Division of the 
Library of the City College of New York, and to Gene Magner, 
curator of manuscripts at the Lockwood Memorial Library at Buf- 

On the more personal side, I need first to thank Mr. and Mrs. 
Wyndham Lewis most warmly for their hospitahty to me on more 
than one occasion, and for their patience and courtesy in answering 
my many questions. My thanks are also due to the following, who 
acquainted me with helpful information, either in conversation or 
by correspondence: Lienhard Bergel, Frank Budgen, Herschel 
Chipp, Stanley Coffman Jr., Bonamy Dobree, Douglas Goldring, 
Mrs. Patricia Graecen, Geoffrey Grigson, Nathan Halper, Mrs. Mol- 
lie Herbert-Dell, James Laughlin, R. A. Scott-James, Sir Osbert 
Sitwell, James Johnson Sweeney, and Miss Harriet Weaver. Peter 
Russell was kindness and encouragement itself throughout the period 
of my researches, and both he and Bertram Rota assisted me im- 
mensely in obtaining first editions of Lewis' scarcer works. My col- 
leagues Clifford Josephson and Marvin Magalaner have been un- 
failingly sympathetic. 

As regards academic direction, I owe a primary debt to my 
Oxford tutor Nevill Coghill who, although he is innocent of any 
influence over this study, first lured me into the groves of academe 

Foreword xiii 

and under whose wing no scholar can come without being made both 
better and happier. Gilbert Highet, J. B. Brebner, and Mrs. Suzanne 
Nobbe, all of Columbia University, all cast their knowledgeable 
eyes over this manuscript in its early stages and improved it in small 
ways. Professor Andre von Gronicka supplied patient direction in 
my German researches, and Professor Jean- Albert Bede in my 
French, while no one can take Justin O'Brien's course in con- 
temporary French literature at Columbia without emerging con- 
siderably wiser. I should like to thank the Chairman of my De- 
partment, Edgar Johnson, for his patience with me during a very 
busy period in my career. To Professor William York Tindall 
I owe an enormous debt, not only for vigorously directing my re- 
searches into contemporary British literature, but for allowing me 
to draw continually from his vast store of informational detail; on 
the interpretive side he proved unwearyingly willing to lend my 
judgments some balance and perspective, without ever trying to im- 
pose on them his own. Mentor mansues, my thanks. 

Finally, I owe the officers and trustees of Columbia University my 
gratitude for the award of the Lydig Fellowship in the Faculty of 
Philosophy, and the officers of the Edward MacDowell Association 
the same for a grant of assistance from its Fellowship Fund, both 
of which awards considerably eased the completion of this study. 

Geoffrey Wagner 
The City College 
New York 


IwiSH TO THANK the editors of the following British and Amer- 
ican periodicals for permission to reprint portions of this book that 
originally appeared in their pages: The Catholic World, The Chi- 
cago Jewish Forum, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 
The Hudson Review, Modern Fiction Studies, The New Mexico 
Quarterly, The New Republic, Nine, The Romanic Review, The 
South Atlantic Quarterly. The section dealing with the controversy 
between Lewis and Joyce was originally delivered as a paper at the 
1955 meeting of the Modern Language Association of America in 
Chicago, under the aegis of Richard EUmann. 

Acknowledgment is gratefully made to the following publishers 
in England for their kindness in allowing me to quote from works 
by Wyndham Lewis to which they hold copyright: John Lane, 
Chatto and Windus, Cassell, Faber and Faber, George Allen and 
Unwin, Jonathan Cape, Eyre and Spottiswoode, Robert Hale, 
Hutchinson, Dent, Nicholson and Watson, George Weidenfeld and 
Nicolson (for Contact Books), and the present pubhshers of Lewis' 
work in England, Methuen. Acknowledgment is also gratefully 
made to the following American publishers for their similar cour- 
tesy: Alfred A. Knopf, Harper and Brothers, Harcourt, Brace, 
Robert M. McBride, Howell, Soskin, Doubleday, New Directions, 
and the present publisher of Lewis' work in America, Henry Reg- 
nery. I am also indebted to the Ryerson Press of Toronto for per- 
mission to quote from one work by Lewis to which they hold copy- 
right. I am also similarly indebted to the editors and/or proprietors 
of those periodicals, extant or defunct, mentioned in the text, from 
which I have quoted unreprinted material by Wyndham Lewis. I 
am equally indebted to J. F. Littler of the British Broadcasting 

xvi Wyndham Lewis 

Corporation for lending me typescript talks, originally transmitted 
via that organization. Lastly, I have to thank Wyndham Lewis him- 
self for permission to quote from those writings of his in which 
sole copyright has reverted to him. And I am indebted to the princi- 
pals and directors of those museums and foundations owning 
graphic works by Lewis, to which allusion is made in the text. 

The drawing of Wyndham Lewis by Michael Ayrton which em- 
bellishes this volume is used by kind permission of Michael Ayrton 
and Methuen and Company, Ltd. 


Introductory: The Men of 1914, the 
Detached Spectator, and the Joy of Protest 

"From the start I have behaved as if I were free." {Rude Assignment, 
p. 105.] 

The writings of Wyndham Lewis ^ can be divided in 
two, critical and creative, and it is the purpose of this study to relate 
the former to the latter. Of their relationship Lewis himself tells us 
that his "philosophic criticism," ^ as he calls it, grew out of his 
creative genius. But this reversal of the normal practice for a con- 

1. In 1928 Lewis wrote: "at the outset of my career, I simplified myself to W.L. 
and cut off my christian attribute." He will therefore be referred to as Wyndham 
Lewis here. 

2. This term may, I think, have been taken from Ramon Fernandez, whose essay 
"De la critique philosophique" (most of which appeared in The Dial for March 
1927) forms the first chapter of his Messages of 1926, later translated by Mont- 
gomery Belgion. Lewis may have been introduced to Fernandez by Aldington's 
translation of his essay on Newman, which appeared in The Criterion for October 
1924, the year when Lewis himself began writing for this periodical and when he 
started using the phrase. 

Fernandez explains that philosophic criticism requires a critic of strong rational 
training and one who can find ideas sharply defined in the world of common sense; 
the pubHc for this criticism should be "une elite capable de comprendre," such as 
Fernandez finds in Meredith's pubHc. For Fernandez, the philosophic critic is un- 
concerned with formal aesthetics, but is interested rather in "une attitude devant la 
vie." Ramon Fernandez, Messages (Paris, GalHmard, 1926), pp. 31-3. His work 
should be a Haison between intelHgence and reality and above all must join at some 
point with human experience: Pater is seen as the opposite of the true philosophic 
critic (ibid., pp. 210-16). This is precisely what Lewis' criticism aims to do, for it 
is nearly all concerned with problems of daily Hfe, even the work on Shakespeare, 
his most "formal" piece of literary criticism, being filled with interpretations of, and 
judgments on, the contemporary scene. 

4 Wyndham Lewis 

temporary neoclassicist, according to Constant Bourquin in his 
book on Benda, makes it hard, though not impossible, to fit books 
Uke Count Your Dead or Left Wings over Europe into such an 
explanation. Perhaps what Lewis means is, as he puts it elsewhere, 
"I am an artist first, and a critic afterwards." ^ 

In yet another place Lewis describes his work as formal (crea- 
tive) and informal (critical), and he has further told us that his 
pamphlets — a term which for him apparently covers a work of 
over three hundred pages — were published in defense of his crea- 
tive art. Again, it is diSicult to reconcile his political books with 
this view, especially when he vacillates over the years in deciding 
what constitutes a "political" book.^ But he is consistent in feeling 
that his criticism has been a wasteful expenditure of his creative 
gifts, necessary because of the nature of our times, and strident 
in order that such a minority view as his own might be heard in 
twentieth-century England. 

However one may eventually feel about Lewis' own explanations 
of his writings, it would be rash to contest, surely, that he has been 
a "portmanteau-man" in the multiplicity of his interests and va- 
riety of his skills. Even those who dislike the use to which he has 
put these skills must honestly confess that this technical proficiency 
in two spheres, in literary and graphic art, has not been an ordi- 
nary gift in our time. Of the several estimates Lewis has made of 
himself, some decidedly flattering ("I have never been overbur- 
dened with the obvious forms of diffidence"), he has accurately 
described himself as "a writer who is a novelist, a critic, a politi- 

3. Wyndham Lewis, Men without Art (London, Cassell, 1934), p. 130. 

4. In one place he writes that he began his criticism in 1926, and one at once 
thinks of The Art of Being Ruled of this year as being principally concerned with 
politics. Wyndham Lewis, Blasting and Bombardiering (London, Eyre and Spottis- 
woode, 1937), p. 5. He himself sees it as such in ch. 30 of Rude Assignment, but he 
also calls The Lion and the Fox "my first political book." Wyndham Lewis, Rude 
Assignment (London, Hutchinson, 1950), p. 160. Confusingly, T. S. Eliot calls 
The Lion and the Fox an " 'anti-political' book." T. S, Eliot, "The Lion and the 
Fox," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), unpaged. 

Introductory 5 

cal pamphleteer, as I am: who has been engaged, as in my case, 
in the analysis of what is obsessional in contemporary social life; 
in composing satiric verse; exposing abuses in art-politics; cele- 
brating in fiction picturesque parasites; in weighing to the best of 
his ability, contemporary theories of the State." ^ 

If all this activity, critical and creative, arose from a single ex- 
perience, it would be as well to glance briefly at this; and here 
there were, I think, three main influences on Lewis before, and 
contemporary with, his first writings. These were his periods spent 
in Germany, France, and then England in the first fifteen years of 
this century. 

Born on November 18, 1882,^ on a ship in the Bay of Fundy, the 

5. Rude Assignment, p. 10. 

6. There has been some difficulty about the date of Lewis' birth, two of the 
Sitwells alleging that Lewis himself is modest to the point of inaccuracy on this 
score. And they are undoubtedly correct. In the Quinn Collection in the New York 
Public Library a letter may be seen dated June 14, 1920, in which it is already 
evident that Lewis imagines himself much younger than he is. 

On the basis of a letter in their possession, and acting in all good faith, the 
Library of Congress has adopted the date of Lewis' birth as 1886. This date is to 
be found in the Library of Congress Catalogue, despite the Thieme-Becker listing 
of 1884. Many American libraries and bibliographers (such as Kunitz-Haycraft 
and Manly-Rickert) have followed the Library of Congress. But Marriott early 
gave 1884, as did Living Art (New York, The Dial Publishing Co., 1923), a volume 
significantly printed in Germany. The date 1886 occurs as late as 1950 in Sherard 
Vines's 100 Years of English Literature (London, Duckworth, 1950), p. 290. More 
recently, Scott-James, Handley-Read, and others have preferred 1884, in common 
with the current Who's Who. Benezit also gives this date. And in the Catalogue 
to the Tate exhibition of "Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism" in 1956, the birth-date 
is still given as 1884, on the basis of "essential information" provided by the artist 
himself. Yet a change of date in Who's Who should surely arouse the suspicion 
of a scrupulous scholar, since the information for this compilation is submitted 
by the subject himself; I was further surprised, on verifying Lewis' years of study 
at the Slade School, at the extremely early age he seems to have enrolled in that 

Accordingly I checked the School Register of Rugby School, where the above 
and other facts may be authenticated, and are indeed likely to be accurate since 
they were either given by Lewis' parents, or by himself before any need for ob- 
fuscation arose. It but remains to add — did Joyce know that Lewis was bom in 
the same year as himself when, in Finnegans Wake, he made him one of his t\\ins? 

6 Wyndham Lewis 

son of Capt. Charles Lewis of Ealing (sometime of West Point), 
Wyndham went to Rugby in January 1897 and left in December of 
the following year to study at the Slade Fine Art School between 
1898 and 1901.'^ For the next six years he was on the Continent, 
getting rid of "the bad effects of EngHsh education." Lewis first 
studied for a short while at the Heimann Academy at Munich, where 
Edward Wadsworth also studied, and his Munich pension is on 
record in the Carlow Collection of his manuscripts. After the period 
in Munich Lewis took a studio in the rue Delambre in Paris, travel- 
ing in the Low Countries and in Spain, and returning to England 
in 1909. 

The only published Slade School memoir of Lewis we have is 
from Sir William Rothenstein, who says that Lewis came to read 
his poems to him and was at this time a man who "liked to shroud 
himself in mystery," an opinion confirmed by subsequent writers 
of memories, including Sir Osbert Sitwell. 

To his period in Munich Lewis makes little allusion in his work, 
but it must have given him a firsthand knowledge of the German 
student type he was to satirize in the figure of Otto Kreisler of 
Tarr. For although he again met this kind of student in both Paris 
and London, Kreisler is essentially a German expatriate, who 

In Finnegans Wake we read explicitly of the Shaun/Shem personae, "we were 
in one class of age like to two clots of egg." Meanwhile, Lewis' recent claim 
to have "won a scholarship at the age of sixteen" to the Slade should be modified. 
The information as to the place of Lewis' birth is taken from the file of an attorney 
who was at one time asked to assist Lewis in the completion of American citizen- 
ship papers. 

7. My dates come from University College, London, where I am indebted to 
the Alumnus Secretary. Handley-Read, in the Chronological Outline to his The Art 
of Wyndham Lewis (London, Faber and Faber, 1951), gives a later year. But 
Handley-Read is not to be trusted. Although he assures us, in his provenance to this 
outline, that the details given have "been checked by reference to actual copies of 
the books, folios, or journals" in each case, seven works are misdated or mistitled 
of the few selected. Both issues of The Tyro are dated as 1924, when even Rude 
Assignment gives the correct dates for these. Hugh Kenner, in his Wyndham Lewis 
(Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1954), refers to this tissue of errors as "an 
invaluable Chronological Outline of Lewis's career." 

Introductory 7 

hangs himself in a village on the Franco-German border, and the 
satire, as we shall see, is one on German manners. 

The influence of Munich on Lewis was mainly graphic. This 
was the Munich that that latter-day Savonarola, Thomas Mann's 
Hieronymo, sees as the art city par excellence in "Gladius Dei," a 
delightful story to be found in the early Tristan collection. Mann's 
story opens with a fine description of Munich as art Mecca at the 
turn of the century, in the passage beginning "MUnchen leuch- 
tete ..." and continuing to describe the atmosphere among the 
young artists, models, and their friends at the time. Georg Fuchs, 
whose Der Kaiser, die Kultur und die Kunst was published in 
Munich in 1904 (and followed by his Deutsche Form in 1907), 
has also given us a lively general picture of the city at this pe- 

Fuchs reminds us, especially in his consideration of Wilhelm 
Busch, that Munich was at this time the seat of the German comic 
genius, of the celebrated Witzhldtter. Both Christian Morgen- 
stern (whose father was a typical Munich painter) and Willy 
Busch were publishing in Munich in these days, and it is of more 
than merely speculative interest to compare Busch's black-and- 
white illustrations to the Fliegende Blatter of the period with Lewis' 
first graphic work. Other artists contributing to this comic journal 
include Oberlander, Caspari, and Gratz, and Lewis certainly saw 
their work in the Munich satiric press, as he must that of Thomas 
Theodor Heine and the Simplizissimus group. A competent art 
critic could surely find the roots of his draughtsmanship not only 
in the German aestheticians like Wilhelm Worringer and Theodor 
Lipps but in the grotesque comedy of the Munich Witzhldtter. 
The grotesque element of this satire, which pervades Lewis' first 
stories, was collected in Wilhelm Michel's Das Teuflische und 
Groteske in der Kunst, pubHshed in Munich in 1911. 

It was Paris, however, whither Lewis repaired after Munich, 
that formed his critical mind more obviously. He has told us that 
"my literary career began in France," and that at the same time 

8 Wyndham Lewis 

his interest in philosophy was awakened. It was out of his experi- 
ences in Brittany that his first pubHshed stories grew, while no 
closer clue to his critical development is needed than his admis- 
sion that he attended Bergson's lectures at the College de France. 
For unlike Irving Babbitt or T. E. Hulme, Lewis does not further 
admit the French sources of his ideas. 

In The Masters of Modern French Criticism Babbitt mentions 
with respect a work he had earlier told us caught his eye in a Paris 
bookshop, Pierre Lasserre's Le Romantisme frangais, a doctoral 
dissertation begun in 1903, completed in 1906, and published in 
1907, quickly running into a second edition the next year. This 
dissertation, which did not receive the necessary mention ires 
honorable from the Sorbonne jury, probably on account of its 
violent tone (Rousseau being characterized as a charlatan, deb- 
auchee, and maniac), was for P. Mansell Jones, surveying the 
period nearly a quarter of a century later, "the first 'text-book' of 
anti-romantic criticism." 

Both Lasserre and "Agathon," pseudonym for Henri Massis and 
Alfred de Tarde, author of the equally contentious UEsprit de la 
Nouvelle Sorbonne of 1911, are singled out for praise by Babbitt, 
and Lasserre, in particular, is an antiromanticist to whom he con- 
stantly returns. Both, or rather all three, men were ligueurs of the 
Action Frangaise by this time, Lasserre having written his Charles 
Maurras et la renaissance classique in 1902. The organ of the politi- 
cal party called the Action frangaise, a periodical of that name, 
started on July 10, 1899. But Charles Maurras, its leader, had been 
one of the signatories to the classical revival calling itself the ecole 
romane, whose manifesto appeared in the Figaro for September 14, 
1891, and several of whom are considered by Pound in his Instiga- 
tions. This was the Maurras who went to Greece to report the first 
modern Olympics in 1896 as a lover to his mistress; he went for La 
Gazette de France, to whose editor, Gustave Janicot, he dedicated 
his charming Anthinea of 1901. Lewis confesses to having attended 
the famous gatherings at the Lilas, over which Maurras originally 

Introductory 9 

presided, and I have often wondered whether this was the model for 
the Cafe Berne of Tarr. 

But the French classical revival, with which Lewis has so much 
in common, is not the ecole romane of Moreas so much as that group 
of young and rebellious spirits who gathered to resist romanticism 
and, as it developed, Bergsonism, in France in the first decade of 
this century, and whom MM. Girard and Moncel distinguish as con- 
sisting chiefly of Charles Maurras, Paul Bourget, Henri Massis, 
Ernest Seilliere, Julien Benda, Pierre Lasserre, and Jacques Mari- 

This group was a closely integrated one. Massis, to be author of 
a two-volume work on Maurras, was an official, and extreme, critic 
for the Action Fran^aise. M. le baron Ernest Seilliere published his 
Le Mai romantique in 1908 and caused his name to echo through 
Babbitt's Democracy and Leadership and On Being Creative. In 
the vanguard of this revolt, Maurras himself was by 1 905 author of 
three works all more or less directly damaging to the nineteenth- 
century romantic ideal. Benda, who more than any of these critics 
was Lewis' master, began to attack Bergson, and through Bergson 
Romance, in 1912,^ while his friend Charles Peguy had begun his 
Cahiers de la quinzaine in 1900, several of which were anti-Sor- 
bonnist and one of which (2ieme cahier de la 15ieme serie) carried 
Benda's Sur le succes du Bergsonisme. Jacques Maritain published 
his UEvolutionisme de M. Bergson in 1911 and his Philosophie de 
M. Bergson in 1913. In 1913 there also appeared Henri Clouard's 

8. Henri Girard et Henri Moncel, Pour et contre le romantisme. Bibliographie 
des travaux publies de 1914 d 1926, "Etudes frangaises," onzieme cahier, l^f 
fevrier 1927 (Paris, Societe d' Edition "Les Belles Lettres"), pp. 19-21. 

9. Benda's Le Bergsonisme ou une philosophie de la mobilite first appeared in 
1912. In 1913 Benda published his Une philosophie pathetiqiie in the Cahiers de 
la quinzaine, and later his Reponse aux defenseurs du Bergsonisme. These last two 
works were collected in 1914 and can be found in the edition I have used of Sur le 
succes du Bergsonisme. I have used the sixth edition of Belphegor; the first was in 
1918 but according to the "Avertissement" provided the work was mainly composed 
before 1914. In chapter 6 of On Being Creative Babbitt praises Benda, though he 
finds him inclined to misanthropy. 

10 Wyndham Lewis 

Les Disciplines: Necessite litteraire et sociale d'une renaissance 
classique, calling for a renewal of intelligence in letters and citing 
Bergson as an anti-intellectualist. With this record in mind it is 
natural to find Lewis according Bergson a "blast" in Blast No. I 
of the year following. 

There are, of course, considerable differences between these 
critics. From Maurras and Maritain, in particular, Lewis has disso- 
ciated himself with justification. Yet as a revolt of the young against 
what they felt to be the tyrannous "romantic" academy of their 
elders, this neoclassicism obviously drew Lewis to it in Paris, just 
as it attracted Huhne when he was there. And its spirit is typically 
captured in "Agathon's" L'Esprit, largely a collection of previously 
published articles. Here we read that romanticism has atrophied in 
the hands of pedagogues. The Sorbonne's Faculte des Lettres is 
bitterly opposed to classical culture, while an overscientific method- 
ology ("etude fantaisiste des textes") is being taught in the name of 
literary criticism. For "Agathon," as for his neoclassical colleagues, 
the classical genius is "I'esprit frangais." This is a criticism, of course, 
which Lewis does not push. It was only natural that after the Franco- 
Prussian War there should be an unusually large legacy of anti- 
German opinion in France. Maurras made use of this, and "Agathon" 
typically finds the Sorbonne tainted by a romanticism that is essen- 
tially Germanic. It is only the early Lewis who was persuaded of 
this view, and it gave him in Kreisler one of his greatest characters. 
The view lingers in Time and Western Man but is not carried 
through in quite the full-blooded manner of the French. 

This second influence on the young Wyndham Lewis also cap- 
tured writers in other countries, of course, even in Germany. Karl 
Joel, for instance, to whose "classical" artist Lewis bears great 
resemblance, called for a new assimilation of the classical spirit in 
German literature in his Die Bedeutung unseres klassischen Zeitalters 
fUr die Gegenwart of 1916, originally written in Basel. Fritz Strich 
is another German critic of this period who is tactfully forgotten 
by the French neoclassicists. And I shall try to show that Ernst 

Introductory 1 1 

and Lublinski were others. Meanwhile in Italy even Benedetto 
Croce recognized the new French classical revival in his Brevario 
di estetica of 1911 and found it, on the whole, justified. 

There is no doubt, however, that in England this revival found 
eminent practitioners. At about the same time that it was publishing 
Lewis' first work, The English Review was giving space to both 
Jean Moreas and Paul Bourget. In its pages for June 1910 Bourget 
characteristically laments "cette funeste annee," 1870, marked as 
it was by "I'installation en France du regime democratique." Bourget 
goes on to deplore French writers from Voltaire to Victor Hugo, 
from Rousseau to Lamartine and Michelet, finally regretting that 
France could not produce in 1871 an Edmund Burke, a man Babbitt 
is to single out as a defender of traditional order against Rousseau 
in Democracy and Leadership. Hulme, Lewis' friend by now, and 
an avowed classicist of a sort, tells us how he attended a lecture 
on Racine in Paris heckled by irascible young students; Montgomery 
Belgion adds the information that these hecklers were indeed the 
famous, or infamous, camelots du roi. By 1914 Lewis was not only 
writing letters to The New Age in defense of Hulme but he was also, 
this year, lecturing beside him, a defense that bellicose philosopher 
should not have needed, for he was capable of suggesting "a little 
personal violence" in support of his views and of transfixing Lewis 
himself, a big man, on the railings of Soho Square to press home 
a point, as well as being provided, according to Michael Roberts, 
with an original Gaudier-Brzeska knuckleduster. Of his relation- 
ship to Hulme, Lewis has written: "We happened, that is all, to 
be made for each other, as critic and 'creator.' " Yet Hulme was in 
a dilemma in the matter of French antiromanticism. On one hand, 
he is the sympathetic translator and interpreter of Bergson (even, 
in The New Age for November 9, 1911, stoutly defending Bergson 
against the scurrilous charge of standing for democracy); on the 
other, writing as the militant "North Staffs" of the war years, Hulme 
is clearly indebted to the ideas of Maurras in his discrediting of 

12 Wyndham Lewis 

Although French neoclassicism continued throughout the nine- 
teen twenties, it was formed as a movement in France in the first 
decade of this century, the years so ardently dramatized in the 
enviably impartial Jean Barois, when Lewis met it firsthand. By 
the twenties Maurras is using it more and more as a camouflage 
for his political beliefs, as his letters to Raymond de la Tailhede 
show. Consequently it loses impetus, for as a political ideology 
contemporary neoclassicism has had little sympathy in France. This 
is surely shown by Maurras' own career. He came to prominence 
on the wave of understandable anti-German sentiment, but his party 
soon lost any popular context and never had any real representa- 
tion in the Chambre des Deputes, while after the first World War 
the Action Frangaise, though claiming to be Catholic to the core, 
was disowned by the Pope. Even "in the 'nationalistic' elections of 
1898," writes Albert Guerard, "not a single anti-Semite was re- 
turned by metropolitan France. Drumont, the apostle of that hate- 
ful creed, had to seek a seat in Algeria." 

The classical-romantic controvery is examined by Emile Henriot 
in the weekly La Renaissance politique et litteraire early in 1921, 
and two cahiers on the same subject were published by the As- 
sociation des Etudes Frangaises in 1928 and 1929, but it is hard 
to see it as a living issue in the way it had been earlier. The bibliog- 
raphy on neoclassicism, drawn up for the Association in 1927 by 
MM. Girard and Moncel, has a final appearance. New names, 
such as those of Rene Benjamin and Ramon Fernandez, join the 
roll call and creative writers continue, of course, to mirror the debaty 
but its boundaries are defined early in the century in France. 

This is not to deny that there were other revolts against nine- 
teenth-century European romanticism, but the neoclassicism Lewis 
is aligned with, together to some extent with those he likes to call 
"the men of 1914" — Eliot, Pound, Joyce, and himself — is that of 
the French critics mentioned, few of whom, except possibly Las- 
serre, add anything substantially nev/ to their attack after the first 
World War. Clearly one can speculate on the causes of this anti- 
romanticism. Critical agreement seems to have been reached that 

Introductory 13 

it was an obvious reaction after a century of romanticism, a reaction 
speeded by the sociological ideas of the Action Frangaise. Paren- 
thetically, it is interesting that Bergson only becomes progressively 
anathematized. "Agathon," for instance, is at first temperate, but 
by 1913 calls Bergson negative and mechanical (Lewis' words for 
him later). Probably this was due to the fact that Bergson, lecturing 
at the College, was in a way a rebel against the Sorbonne, his 
candidature there having been refused in 1894 and 1898. We shall 
see how much Lewis borrowed from these French thinkers and 
we shall find his attitude admirably expressed in that now famous 
statement on the controversy by T. S. Eliot: "there may be a good 
deal to be said for Romanticism in life, there is no place for it in 
letters." ^^ 

Indeed the English antiromanticists tend to translate, rather than 
fabricate, antiromantic criticism. F. S. Flint, having helped Hulme 
to translate Bergson (if we are to believe Aldington), translated 
Massis' Defense de V Occident in 1927, the very year in which Lewis 
showed himself so concerned as to the health of Western man. 
Aldington followed with his translation of Benda's La Trahison des 
clercs. Eliot, friend of both Massis and Maritain, guided, defended, 
and in some cases even lauded Benda, Maritain, and Maurras 
(his Coriolan) through the pages of The Criterion of the twenties. 
(In The Literature of Politics, an address to the London Conserva- 
tive Political Centre published in 1955, Eliot confesses that he now 
sees some of Maurras' views as "deplorable.") The first chapter of 
Babbitt's Rousseau and Romanticism of 1919 is entitled "The Terms 
Classic and Romantic." Sir Herbert Grierson's Leslie Stephen Lec- 
ture for 1923 was on "Classical and Romantic," terms compared 
the year before in Germany by Strich. In 1934 both Lewis and Eliot 
published books. Men without Art and After Strange Gods respec- 
tively, in which there is reference to the debate. But I cannot see, be- 
yond individual nuances here and there, much to challenge the con- 
tention that these English works prolong a battle fought out in 

"lO. T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood (London, Methuen, 1932), p. 32; these essays 
were first published in 1920. 

14 Wyndham Lewis 

France earlier and in America, if we are to credit Robert Gorham 
Davis, ^^ later. 

This brings us to the third influence on the young Lewis, namely 
his first literary associations in London. His first publication was 
in Ford Madox Ford's The English Review. Claiming that its title 
was chosen by Conrad, Ford has given us many reminiscences about 
this periodical. Harold Monro and Violet Hunt both assert that it 
was founded in the first place to print a rejected poem of Hardy's. 
Ford denies this story, stating that if any such idea existed it was 
in the head of his colleague Marwood, but certainly Hardy's poem 
"A Sunday Morning Tragedy" starts the first issue. 

Apart from Ford's own inimitable memoirs, Douglas Goldring 
and Violet Hunt have both recorded the beginnings of this in- 
fluential review. It consisted of two schools of contributors; the 
older, established generation included Conrad, W. H. Hudson, 
Henry James, Hardy, Galsworthy, Wells (whose Tono-Bungay was 
first printed in these pages), Meredith, and Arnold Bennett, while 
"les jeunes," or the "haughty and proud generation" as Ford called 
them, included among others D. H. Lawrence, Pound, and Lewis. 
It was this younger generation, including also Flint, Norman Doug- 
las, Eliot, "H.D.," Aldington, R. A. Scott-James, and R. B. Cunning- 
hame Graham (some thirty years older than Lewis, of course), 
whom Lewis met at 84 Holland Park Avenue, Ford's house and 
editorial ofiice. 

The English Review was born in December 1908. Lewis met 
Ezra Pound in 1910, according to Stanley Coffman.^^ This was, 
then, after Pound had exerted some influence on his own, if we are 
again to trust Flint's assertion, in The Egoist for May 1, 1915, that 
the Imagist movement began in 1908 with Hulme's Poets' Club, 
a club Flint earlier attacked for its pomposity and which did not 
number Lewis among its members. ^^ Coffman charts the beginnings 

11. Robert Gorham Davis, "The New Criticism and Democratic Tradition,** 
The American Scholar, 19, No. 1 (Winter 1949-50), 9-19. 

12. Stanley K. Coffman Jr., Imagism (Norman, Okla., University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1951), p. 18. 

13. F. S. Flint, "The History of Imagism," The Egoist, 2, No. 5 (May 1, 1915), 

Introductory 15 

of Imagism proper "in the spring of 1912," as we find them re- 
corded in Aldington's Life for Life's Sake, despite the fact that 
Pound calls the Imagists a school in 1909.^^ However this may be, 
it seems that Lewis' return from the Continent at this time in- 
fluenced Pound. Flint complains, for instance, that Pound "made 
Imagism to mean pictures as Wyndham Lewis understands them," 
and Hugh Kenner believes that it was the increasing femininity of 
Imagism, especially after the arrival in London of Amy Lowell 
("Amygism"), that drove Pound to Lewis and his more masculine 
Vortex. The anthology, ofiicially uniting the Imagists, Des Imagistes, 
did not appear until 1914. 

In turn, Lewis' friendship with Pound would naturally lead him 
from The English Review to Blast and the Great English Vortex. 
Pound now saw to it, too, that Lewis could place his work in The 
Little Review, for when he became London editor of this review 
in 1917 Pound wrote to Margaret Anderson stating — what we also 
find in his editorial for the May 1917 issue — that he wished to use the 
review as a platform for Joyce, Eliot, Lewis, and himself, for, in 
fact, the "men of 1914." 

Similarly Lewis' meeting with Eliot, to whom, so he says, Pound 
introduced him between the two issues of Blast, led to another 
important association for him, that with the Egoist Ltd., with which 
press he was to publish both Tarr and The Caliph's Design, Yet it 
is worth recording that "Tarr" was accepted by The Egoist before 
Eliot took over majority editorial control. The history of this im- 
portant periodical is as follows; in The New Age for November 

70-1. Flint's previous article, "Imagisme," Poetry, 1, No. 6 (March 1913), 198- 
200, stated the principles of the movement, followed by "A Few Don't's by an 
Imagiste" by Pound. But see also Ezra Pound, Pavannes and Divisions (New York, 
Knopf, 1918), pp. 95-6. 

14. Coffman, Imagism, pp. 4-5 (but cf. p. 154). Pound in one place calls the 
Imagists "descendants of the forgotten school of 1909." Ezra Pound, Prefatory 
Note to the "Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme," Ripostes of Ezra Pound 
(London, Stephen Swift, 1912), p. 59. Hugh Kenner takes Pound, as he takes 
Ford, at his own word on the literary events of these days. Hugh Kenner, The 
Poetry of Ezra Pound (Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1951), p. 56. 

16 Wyndham Lewis 

23, 1911, Harriet Weaver's The Freewoman is announced as to 
be under the joint editorship of Dora Marsden and Mary Gawthorpe; 
this became The New Freewoman and on January 1, 1914, The 
Egoist. In the summer of 1916 we find Aldington and "H.D." 
assistant editors, but with the former's removal to the front Eliot 
took over in June 1917. "Tarr" began in The Egoist for April 1, 

Among these many associations in the third formative period in 
Lewis' early literary career, Ezra Pound was pre-eminent. Lewis 
himself has consistently maintained that Pound was the animator of 
the "men of 1914." Ford and Iris Barry both confirm this impres- 
sion. Hugh Gordon Porteus claims this position for Lewis, but few 
memoirs of the period substantiate him. John Cournos mentions 
what an important literary meeting place Pound's flat was at this 
time, while Stella Bowen recalls Pound's dinner parties at Bel- 
lotti's in Soho, which Lewis attended. Not only has Lewis paid 
tribute to Pound for his own indebtedness in this respect, but he 
says that Eliot also met many, like Aldington, who were to be 
influential on him, through Pound. And it was through Eliot that 
Lewis met Joyce for the first time in the summer of 1920.^^ 

Indeed, Lewis must have been too busy with his painting at this 
time to have been so conscientious an "animator" as Pound. For 
another short-lived literary association of the pre-first World War 
era takes us into the field of Lewis' graphic art. During its brief 
lifetime Goldring's periodical The Tramp published as well as 
Lewis such writers as Flecker, W. H. Davies, Edward Thomas, 
Arnold Bennett, and — Marinetti. To be reminded of Marinetti, and 
of his spectacular visit to London when he gave a celebrated lecture 
at the Dore Gallery in Bond Street, is to be reminded that, as Ford 
puts it, "for a moment in the just-before-the-war days, the Fine, 
the Plastic and the Literary Arts touched hands with an unusual 

15. Blasting and Bombardiering, pp. 270 ff. Pound writes to Joyce that Eliot is 
leaving for Paris around August 15, 1920. The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941, 
ed. D. D. Paige (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1950), p. 156. 

Introductory 17 

intimacy and what is called one-ness of purpose." As we know, 
Lewis shared in this portmanteau period. 

Handley-Read has it that Lewis' first exhibition was at the Ryder 
Gallery in 1909, but surprisingly he makes no mention of the 
famous "Post-Impressionist" show organized by Roger Fry at the 
Grafton Galleries in 1911. It was this exhibit, whose aims were 
summarized by Fry in The Fortnightly Review for May 1, 1911, 
that attracted Hulme to comment so vividly on the visual arts. To 
it Lewis sent his drawings for Timon of Athens, v/hich he later 
published as a portfolio from the Cube Press, for if he did not, like 
Max Weber, write Cubist Poems, Lewis at least ran a Cube Press 
and painted Cubist rooms. Sir William Rothenstein has left us a 
chapter on this exhibition in his Men and Memories, 1900-1922, 
while Jacob Epstein has testified to the feeling of "intimacy" among 
the arts at this period, describing how he used to meet Hulme and 
Lewis and discuss art with them in 1912. 

The war sealed this third period for Lewis. Although Lewis' 
name can be seen on the editorial committee of Coterie for Decem- 
ber 1919, along with Eliot, Huxley, and Aldington, the war in- 
evitably narrowed some of these friendships, as it ended Hulme's 
life a quarter of a mile from where Lewis' own battery was dug in, 
for Lewis allegedly enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1915.^^ At 
the end of January 1917 Lewis is still in England, however, writing 
to John Quinn from Kent, although in Blasting and Bomhardiering 
he writes about being at the front "throughout 1917." Ford recounts 
how he lost touch with Lewis after the war and he does not invite 
him to contribute to The Transatlantic Review, edited from Paris 
in 1924, nor is there any mention of Lewis in Stella Bowen's de- 
scription of the first days of this review in Drawn from Life. If Lewis 
fell out with his first editor — and if one gives credence to Ford's 
memoirs — one can scarcely be surprised. For in the days of the con- 

16, Handley-Read, Art of Wyndham Lewis, p. 37; here Handley-Read is cor- 
roborated by Lewis himself {Blasting and Bomhardiering, pp. 91 ff.), while Pound 
writes to Lewis in uniform on June 24, 1916 {Letters of Ezra Pound, p. 83). 

18 Wyndham Lewis 

ception of Blast y Ford says, Lewis (whom he calls "D.Z.") and 
Pound took him for a walk, during which Lewis is supposed to 
have told Ford he was finished: " 'What people want is me, not 
you,' " he thundered at Ford. " 'They want to see me. A Vortex . . . 
I ... I ... I ... The Vortex.' " ^' 

There is little change in Lewis' critical opinions after 1920 and 
he lives today in Notting Hill, Rotting Hill as Pound called it, the 
place of his first meeting with Eliot through Pound. If it is true, 
then, that his critical grew out of his creative work, it must make 
any consideration of his criticism especially interesting as illumi- 
nating his entire artistic genius. For it follows that if we resume 
Lewis' criticism, we resume the purpose of his satire. And as we 
inspect this criticism what we find is as representative a statement 
of contemporary neoclassicism as can be found in any English 
writer. In nothing is it more neoclassical than in its pretensions to 

By the word "clerc" Benda designates the intellectual or thinker 
who has, in the past, remained apart from practical necessity and 
current controversy in an effort to safeguard lasting values; it is 
this element of society which is, for Benda, especially guilty of 
dereliction of duty today. Again and again Lewis claims to be this 
kind of true clerc and, lest we might think him as deficient in ob- 
jectivity as does Professor Hausermann (who finds him detached 
only in name), Lewis reminds us over and over that he takes the 
"outside" position, keeping his mind free of dogma and refusing to 
mix thinking and acting (except inasmuch as thinking is one form 
of acting). In Blast No. 2 he called himself "an IMPARTIAL man 
in time of war"; in 1926 he protests that he is "an independent 
observer," and three years later an " 'impartial observer.' " It is 
in politics, in particular, that he disarms us with the repeated as- 

17. Ford Madox Ford, Return to Yesterday (New York, Liveright, 1932), p. 
400: Ford repeats this story with minor alterations in his Mightier than the 
Sword (London, Allen and Unwin, 1938), p. 282. 

Introductory 19 

surance of classical detachment. "I fly the flag of no party"; ^^ "I 
advance the strange claim (as my private Bill of Rights) to act 
and think non-politically in everything, in complete detachment"; ^^ 
"I belong to no party"; ^o "Politically I stand nowhere"; ^i "I believe 
I am alone among writers today in advocating no partisanship in 
the political field"; ^^ "I am called a rebel, I am called a reactionary, 
according to which boss of the moment I am facing, or whose dogs 
are barking at my heels" ^^ — these are only a few such assurances 
culled from over the years, a heroic impartiality in politics that re- 
minds us that the author of the Note to Flowering Rifle, Roy Camp- 
befl, has lately been seen as "a politically unattached poet" ^^ by a 
writer for the British Council, Alan Ross. One could, in fact, con- 
tinue indefinitely quoting Lewis' idea of himself as the detached 
spectator, if to do so might not give the uncharitable impression 
that he was protesting too much. One might, indeed, be led to be 
so lacking in impartiality as Professor Hausermann when one finds, 
for example, Lewis writing in the year he addressed the British 
Fascist party in The British Union Quarterly, "Je constate, that 
is aU." 25 

Only occasionally does this mask of detachment slip off and we 

18. Wyndham Lewis, Left Wings over Europe: or, How to Make a War about 
Nothing (London, Cape, 1936), p. 17. 

19. Wyndham Lewis, The Diabolical Principle and the Dithyrambic Spectator 
(London, Chatto and V^indus, 1931), p. 37. 

20. Wyndham Lewis, Rotting Hill (Chicago, Henry Regnery, 1952), p. 54. 

21. Rude Assignment, p. 77. 

22. Men without Art, p. 263. 

23. Wyndham Lewis, Satire and Fiction (London, The Arthur Press, 1930), 
p. 51. Answering an inquiry in New Verse in 1934 as to his political sympathies of 
the time, Lewis replied, "Politically I take my stand exactly between the Bolshevist 
and the Fascist — the gentleman on my left I shake with my left hand, the gentle- 
man on my right with my right." And cf. "I have always hated any government" 
(Rotting Hill, p. 226). 

24. Alan Ross, Poetry 1945-1950 (London, Longmans, Green, 1951, i.e. 1952, 
see DNB), p. 22. 

25. Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 244. 

20 Wyndham Lewis 

find him writing, "it is impossible to be non-partisan," ^^ or, a more 
exact definition of his attitude, "I have an obvious interest in what 
I am writing about." ^^ Strangely, while Lewis insists on his political 
detachment, he admits to being least impartial in his graphic art 
criticism, where he is actually more impartial, especially in his recent 
reviews in The Listener. The ideal of detachment, however, is an 
important classical principle for Lewis, who believes that when art, 
philosophy, and literature descend to the level of ordinary men, 
they are contaminated. If he is one-sided, it is as what he calls "a 
doctrinaire of art-independent of life." 

This idea, of the creative individual keeping himself apart, was 
also behind Yeats' use of the mask. Richard Ellmann has shown 
what the mask meant to Yeats and, although Yeats used it in a 
special sense in A Vision, as one of the Four Faculties and the op- 
posite of what he called Will, it was essentially employed as an ideal 
of impersonality or detachment, in keeping with the antiromantic 
movement. Yeats' use of the mask is part of what Ellmann calls "his 
policy of concealment of his more intimate self," and Ellmann 
notes, interestingly, that the word "mask" began to occur in Yeats' 
writings in the first decade of this century. In Yeats' case it was 
in consonance with his poetic movement away from his early ro- 

For Yeats the mask was man's antiself, or ''antithetical being," 
as he called it in /I Vision, In Dramatis Personae he wrote, *T think 
that all happiness depends on the energy to assume the mask of 
some other self." Yeats further described the use of the mask in 
his Autobiographies as an explanation of true character, which 
is the sense of Pound's Personae (or even of Browning's). Thus 
we find that the manuscript of Lewis' The Lion and the Fox bears 
the subtitle "Or Shakespeare Unmasked." The artist as opposite 
of his creation is best expressed by Yeats in his poem "Ego Dominus 

26. The Enemy: A Review of Art and Literature, No. 2 (London, The Arthur 
Press, Sept. 1927), p. xxxi. 

27. Men without Art, p. 118. 

Introductory 21 

Tuus," a dialogue between Hie and Ille (Willie, as Pound called 
it), Ille concluding: 

"I call to the mysterious one who yet 

Shall walk the wet sand by the water's edge. 

And look most like me, being indeed my double, 

And prove of all imaginable things 

The most unlike, being my anti-self, 

And, standing by these characters, disclose 

AU that I seek; . . ." ^s 

But although Lewis has been typically neoclassical in hiding 
behind some fictional mask, this has not been what it was for Yeats 
— "the opposite of all that I am in my daily life." Writing of the 
Lewisian artist, Hugh Kenner says, "he doesn't quite believe in his 
lonely role (hence his interest in simulacra who manage to corrupt 
its austerity with a gratifying ration of vulgar power)." ^^ It is 
through these simulacra, or disguises, that one is often compelled 
to present Lewis' critical opinions. For Lewis early advised the 
creative artist a variety of disguises. "The Code of a Herdsman," 
originally published in The Little Review for July 1917, is mainly 
a set of instructions to the Herdsman, or inspired artist, not to come 
dovm from his mountain to the herd without some mask or disguise. 
"Stagnant gases from these Yahooesque and rotten herds are more 
dangerous often than the wandering cylinders that emit them. See 
that you are not caught in them without your mask." ^^ 

Here the pun is made on a gas mask, of course, one Lewis liked 

28. W. B. Yeats, Essays (New York, Macmillan, 1924), p. 484. 

29. Hugh Kenner, "The War with Time," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/ 
Autumn 1953), p. 22. 

30. Wyndham Lewis, The Ideal Giant, The Code of a Herdsman, Cantelman's 
Spring-Mate, privately printed for the London office of The Little Review (1917), 
p. 36. In the text I adopt the spelling Cantleman. When this character first ap- 
peared in The Little Review (causing the issue to be confiscated by U.S. postal 
authorities), he was variously spelt. In Blasting and Bombardiering, however, 
where he is substituted for Thomas Blenner of Blast No. 2, he makes his last, 
full-dress appearance as Cantleman. 

22 Wyndham Lewis 

to prolong, for after an attack on him as the Enemy in transition 
for 1927 (a prolific year in Lewis' "canon"), he staged an imaginary 
conversation between himself ("L.") and the editors of transition 
("P.AJ."), Eugene Jolas, Elliot Paul, and Robert Sage, in The 
Diabolical Principle and the Dithyrambic Spectator. In the course 
of this conversation "P.AJ." disgustedly accuses "L." of belonging 
to no party and, pressed to give himself some label, "L." terms 
himself " 'A Lewisite begging your pardon.' " Lewisite was the 
poisonous gas used by both sides during the first World War. 

Nearly all the figures in Lewis' early drawings, especially those 
on the title pages of chapters or books, are masked; easily available 
examples can be seen in the prospectuses for The Enemy or the 
drawing for the section of One-Way Song, called "If So the Man 
You Are" and including the Enemy episode, showing an armored 
man accompanied by his Doppel or sosie. Again, we read that 
the characters in his play The Enemy of the Stars are masked, while 
the autobiographical Enemy hhnself enters the long poem One-Way 
Song with a mask on. The Herdsman is advised to adopt six different 
personalities to keep himself pure of the herd. 

It is necessary to stress this because, by adopting at least six such 
personalities himself, Lewis makes it hard to take much of his 
criticism directly. Often some alias or alter ego intervenes and for 
that reason some of these should be sketched in briefly here, before 
rehearsing the criticism itself. 

Chronologically, the first is Cantleman. Lewis calls Cantleman 
"my fictional diarist," while warning us not to confuse Cantleman 
with himself. But there are points of resemblance. Blenner-Cantle- 
man is aged thirty-three, about Lewis' own age at the time of his 
first creation of the character. He is a retired first lieutenant with a 
beard and, typical of these antiselves, he has strong eyes, sharp 
sight among the blind crowds. He is, thus, a Crowd-Master, a man 
who does not want to "enter into league" with life. Cantleman is a 
military alias, and Lewis has confessed, "my politics bear signs 
everywhere of their origin in war." It is not pressing the comparison 
too far, I think, to recall Lewis' descriptions of his own visits to gun- 

Introductory 23 

ner O.P.'s during the war in Blasting and Bombardiering. Here, as 
gunner oiSicer surveying in hostile detachment enemy terrain on 
which to direct his guns, Lewis must have felt an ironic symbol of 
his own literary outpost. 

The "joy of protest" ingrained in Blenner is found also in William 
Bland Burn, another early alias and author of some "Imaginary 
Letters" from Petrograd to his wife Lydia in the first World War. 
The correspondence, in which Pound joined as Walter Villerant, 
characterizes Burn as a hater of the herd, or swine, and a man 
longing to change humanity back into men again. But it is the 
Enemy that is Lewis' most recurrent mask. This product of the 
Arthur Press — a name chosen for his own publishing house by 
Lewis since the word is the same in all languages ^^ — advocates 
constant opposition, the wearing of many coats, the outside position 
as the only method of attaining truth in comtemporary society. In 
a world of sham, the Enemy seems to be saying, only revolt can 
constitute authenticity. 

Lewis' periodical The Enemy y appearing toward the end of the 
twenties, was openly intended to sow discord. The editorial to Vol- 
ume 1 defines the Enemy himself as "a solitary outlaw," the natural 
foe of modern times, opposed as these are said to be to genius. Al- 
though the Enemy has no politics, he is going to attack the indolence 
and apathy of the masses, in an effort to free the truly creative in- 
dividual. The editorial to No. 2 reaffirms this purpose, defining the 
Enemy's duty as opposition to all vested interests and pseudo- 
revolutionary trends in general, and in particular to the Time school 
and millionaire Bohemia. Later, in a newspaper article,^- Lewis 
tells us that the Enemy is himself the true individual of our times 
and, as such, a man's best friend. A year later Lewis bids this 

31. Rude Assignment, p. 205: Wyndham Lewis, The Jews, Are They Human? 
(London, Allen and Unwin, 1939), p. 48. The Abbe Bremond, a writer to whom 
Lewis refers with reluctant respect, introduced a new edition of Ulric Guttinguer's 
somewhat autobiographical Arthur in 1925, at the time when the Arthur Press 

32. Wyndham Lewis, "What It Feels Like to Be an Enemy," The Daily Herald, 
No. 5082 (May 30, 1932), p. 8. 

24 Wyndham Lewis 

alias good-by in his one satiric poem One-Way Song, whose "Enemy 
Interlude" furnishes us with the best description of the characteriza- 

His balance is astonishing when you consider 
He has never sold himself to the highest bidder, 
Never has lived a week for twenty summers 
Free of the drumfire of the camouflaged gunners, 
Never has eaten a meal that was undramatic — 
Without the next being highly problematic. 
Never succumbed to panic, kaltes blut [sic] 
His watchword, facing ahead in untroubled mood. 
He has been his own bagman, critic, cop, designer, 
Publisher, agent, char-man and shoe-shiner. 

He goes on: 

You must salute this outcast Enemy — 
Outcasted for refusal to conform 
To the phases of this artificial storm. 

Stanza 15 of the part "If So the Man You Are," which Gilbert 
Armitage thought as good as Byron,^^ has a section on the sham 
of our everyday life very reminiscent of Hugh MacDiarmid's 
"hokum" passage in To Cir cum jack Cencrastus,^^ and it is inter- 
esting to note that MacDiarmid, who would not normally be drawn 
to Lewis' politics, gave One-Way Song a laudatory review at the 

There are many other minor aliases. Ned, a political alias of 
1937, calls himself a "Bolsho-Tory," meaning that he sits on both 
sides of the fence at once, being both anti-Russian and anti-John 

33. Gilbert Armitage, review of One-Way Song, New Verse, No. 7 (Feb. 1934), 

34. Hugh M'Diarmid, To Circumjack Cencrastus or The Curly Snake (Edin- 
burgh, Blackwood, 1930), pp. 132-5. 

35. Hugh MacDiarmid, review of One-Way Song, Scots Observer, 8, No. 381 
(Jan., 1934), 10. 

Introductory 25 

Bull. He has other sympathies, however, for he is pro-German 
(though denying being so, of course), springs to the defense of 
Hitler, and believes fascism to be "the nearest thing to Democ- 
racy." ^^ Ned loathes usury and would welcome fascism to eliminate 
it and he wonders, sadly, why the English take to him so little. The 
supposedly uncommitted nature of the Lewisian alter ego, exem- 
plified in the narrator of Rotting Hill (the only man impervious to 
the Rot and the only one who says "No" to his society) , is also found 
in the "Deputy" in Men without Art. Kemp, of The Ideal Giant, a 
writer whose time is consumed with journalism and who is to be 
found in an arty restaurant, makes comments in sympathy with 
Lewis' own opinions during his pre-first World War Cafe Royal 
period. Kemp sponsors what Lewis often calls Cato's truth, or the 
expedient lie. Thus he tells his friend Fingal that he never lies and 
then at once poses as a war hero, saying "The Ego's Vv'orst enemy 
is Truth." This posing as a war hero is delightfully repeated in the 
person of the bogus Commander Perse (or Perce) at the end of 
The Apes of God. Ned, too, uses Cato's truth, and we find that 
he kills his patriotically English friend, Launcelot Nidwit, with it. 
As Kemp says, the status quo of contemporary Western society is 
a falsehood: "Self. Self. One must rescue that sanity. Truth, duty 
— are insanity." 

This is orthodox Wyndham Lewis, for Kemp is simply saying 
that what we call truth is no truth, since our civilization is a fake. 
This, we shall see, is Percy Hardcaster's tragic lesson in The Re- 
venge for Love; as he says to Gillian, " Tf you don't use the lie it 
is as if you made war upon a nation armed with bombs and gas with 
flintlocks or just with fists.' " ^'^ It is from this point on that Gillian 

36. Wyndham Lewis, Count Your Dead: They Are Alive! or A New War in the 
Making (London, Lovat Dickson, 1937), p. 276. 

37. Wyndham Lewis, The Revenge for Love (London, Methiien, 1952), p. 202. 
In general, I have used first editions of Lewis' works. The recent Methuen reprints, 
however, reproduce with fidelity, and only one or two minor corrections, the last 
edition of the work in question before the second World War. In the case of Tarr 
Lewis' extensive revisions are taken into account below. 

26 Wyndham Lewis 

begins to dislike him, for she is part of the sham herself. And so 
Kemp tells Miss Godd, a murderess, "What I meant was that honesty 
was a rhythm; it must be broken up." ^^ 

Some final masks should be mentioned. The first is Maj. Archibald 
("Corkers") Corcoran whom we meet in America, I Presume gazing 
with "Olympian detachment" on the New York crowds, "staccato 
crowds" as he calls them later. There are many autobiographical 
elements in this creation of 1940, the son of an army officer, mar- 
ried to a wife (a good cook) born in Maine, who leaves for Canada 
and America shortly before the start of the second World War. An 
interesting aspect of this characterization is the monocle "Corkers" 
sports, imparting a symbolically militant appearance to his eye. 
Indeed, his eye "explodes" behind his monocle, his eyeglass (or 
"eyeglassed optical sentinel") has a "menace" in it. "Corkers" feels 
very lonely and unique and at the end his wife, a celebrated mystery 
writer (authoress of Murder Is Fun and A Poppy in the Chocolate) , 
leaves him. This duplicates the sundering of intellect (eye) and 
emotion (woman), which there is at the end of Tarr. But Corcoran 
is, of course, a stage John Bull, completely "sporting," though 
playing the game in the English sense is more of a vice than a virtue 
for Lewis. In one place, in fact, he suggests that his so-called im- 
partiality is a highly unsportsmanlike gesture in a world like ours 
where everyone is a phony: "It is rather disgusting of me, but I 
am trying not to take sides ... I shall go ahead, in my unsport- 
ing way." 

Secondly there is Rene Harding, the hero of Self Condemned, 
who also leaves England for Canada at the same time as "Corkers," 
and then leaves Canada for the U.S.A. at the end of the book 
(Lewis himself left Toronto for St. Louis and a number of little- 
known portraits). "You see," Rene remarks at one point, "I think 
in a manner in which one is not allowed to think. So I become an 
outsider, almost a pariah." Father Card of The Red Priest should 
also be mentioned. He is an ex-boxing Blue, with "the extremism of 

38. Ideal Giant, p. 20. 

Introductory 27 

the Asiatic." He is described as a "Man-Eating Man" (he kills a 
character called Makepeace), a "locomotive," and a "giant." One 
character in the book says of him: "He loathes everything, you see." 
It is not surprising that he desires "absolute loneliness," and finds it 
among the Eskimos, who kill him. 

Lastly there is Snooty Baronet, Sir Michael Kell-Imrie, a Scot 
aged thirty-nine and nine months (about twelve years younger than 
his creator), and author of People Behaving. But the kind of be- 
havior Snooty advocates by his actions, especially in his acte 
gratuit of shooting his best friend in the back, is anti-behavior. 
He indeed calls himself an "anti-man" and enemy of the human 
race. Physically, he is, like "Corkers" and like Lewis himself, six 
feet tall. Unlike Lewis he was wounded in the war and has a false 
leg and a plate in his skull. Thus he is semimechanical. His face 
frequently wears a "mask," he prefers "the One to the Many (what- 
ever be the condition of the One)" and he refers affectionately to 
the genius of the Lewis-gun. What is more he laughs like Samuel 
Butler, a man he much admires as a fellow misanthropist. As usual 
he claims detachment: "To register the roar of storms you must 
yourself be just beyond their deafening circles." 

Snooty's warning to his readers is surely one Lewis would want 
to give to any critic approaching his own opus: "Within the twi- 
light of my race's days, the hostile silhouette (once that of tradition, 
of the hated next-door neighbour) grows vaster beneath our eyes 
. . . Expect nothing out of my mouth, therefore, that has a pleasant 
sound. Look for nothing but descriptions out of a vision of a 
person who has given up hoping for Man, who is scrupulous and 
just, if only out of contempt for those who are so much the con- 
trary." 39 

39. Wyndham Lewis, Snooty Baronet (London, Cassell, 1932), p. 233. 


"I am not a politician but an artist." [The Jews, Are They Human? 
p. 78.] 

Chapter i: A Study of the State 

"With candour, and with an almost criminal indifference to my per- 
sonal interests, I have given myself up to the study of the State." 
[Rude Assignment, pp. 63-4.] 

During the dinner party at Lord Osmund's in The Apes of God 
there is a discussion of contemporary literature, and one character 
inquires about " 'our solitary high-brow pur-sang Lewis?' " To 
which the reply is given that his activities are mere " 'teilopera- 
tionen.' " Lewis is here unusually frank in describing his critical as- 
saults, particularly in the field of politics. Yet, although these are 
indeed teiloperationen, they arise out of a common view of human 
society which he takes with him to all his writings. 

What is politics for Lewis? Politics is the necessary government 
by force of the human animal in society. Believing with Machiavelli 
that men are not good,^ Lewis sees politics as the instrument of 
power, used by individual or State to curb the masses. So politicians 
are to be classed with soldiers, or policemen, in that they are prin- 
cipally concerned with power — so much so, he once says, that 
intellectual equipment is a handicap for the contemporary politician.^ 

Being so concerned with power, the State, national or sovereign, 
functions on a lower level than the individual, an important attitude 
to emphasize from the start since it is typical of the neoclassicist in its 

1. There are several key places in Machiavelli's work where we meet this, in 
particular the lion and fox episode in ch. 18 of // Principe, and ch. 3 of the first 
book of the Discorsi. This distinction seems to escape James Burnham in his other- 
wise admirable study of Machiavelli. 

2. Wyndham Lewis, The Old Gang and the New Gang (London, Desmond 
Harmsworth, 1933), p. 34. 


32 Politics 

opposition to the Platonic doctrine that the State can condition the 
individual. In all spheres the State acts as a restrictive influence on 
the individual, although of course he hints at the kind of State that 
might not do so, as we shall see. But politics, being concerned with 
power, is set on a lower plane of activity than that on which the 
true individual should operate. In short, "Politics are 'below' morals, 
below the reason," and "There are no good politics." ^ 

There can be no objective truth in politics, Lewis asserts, since 
here participation alone gives knowledge, and participation means 
contact with that emotional animal, man. Today especially, since the 
undisciplined masses have been allowed into the political arena in 
the Western democracies, politics has put us in the keeping of the 
instinctual and violent, rather than of the rational, elements in our 

In La Trahison des clercs, a book Lewis calls "a modern classic," 
Benda gives three stages in the relationship between politics and 
morality; the first, when the moral was invited to determine the 
political; the second, when morals were to be dissociated from 
politics (as in Machiavelli) ; the third, when politics is to dictate 
morals (as today, especially in the politics of men like Maurras).* 

Lewis begins his criticism of the contemporary scene from this 
last point of view, with the complaint that politics today implies a 
subordination of the intellect to practical ends and is thus inimical 
to the functioning of the true individual. Both Benda and Lewis 
explicitly agree with Romain Rolland's dictum: "Tons les Etats 
puent." Ned concludes, then, that politics is totally untruthful, a 

3. Rude Assignment, pp. 62, 221. One should enter the occasional contradiction 
here. In one place Lewis will say that "Politics is a melodrama for teen-aged minds" 
(Wyndham Lewis, America and Cosmic Man, New York, Doubleday, 1949, p. 12); 
then we find him arguing that contemporary fiction must be steeped in poHtics to 
be an adequate reflection of reality (Rotting Hill, p. vii). 

4. JuHen Benda, La Trahison des clercs (Paris, Grasset, 1948), p. 183; this 
work originally appeared in 1927, but in Rude Assignment Lewis refers at length 
to this new edition, which includes a new preface recapitulating opinions previously 
expressed in La Grande Epreuve des democraties. 

A Study of the State 33 

lie opposed at every point to objective truth. This poses a funda- 
mental, perhaps tragic, anomaly in Lewis' work; namely politics 
is base but today "Man, unless a very unusually fine specimen, 
is a 'political animal.' " 

The reason why our age has become so cravenly political, in this 
sense, is that the true individual, whom Lewis defines as the abstract 
or quintessence of the group, with a life accordingly more intense 
than that of the group, has become lazy; as a result, the group or 
syndicalist ideal thrives. For the true individual must become in- 
creasingly energetic in an age like our own, when the body triumphs 
over intellect, "sensation" over mind (and woman over man). The 
general masses of mankind are less and less able to make this in- 
dividual effort and consequently welcome political organizations 
that treat them like children.^ 

This is anticipating somewhat, but it is as well to make compari- 
son with Benda from the start, for the whole argument of La Trahi- 
son is just this surrender of the disinterested intellect, either by 
treachery or sloth on the part of the clerc himself or by treachery on 
the part of the State toward the clerc. Benda here sees the intel- 
lectual conceding everywhere to immediate political interests, the 
chief of these being racial, national, and class passions. The organ- 
ization of political hatreds (what Lewis calls "group-rhythms"), the 
tendency toward unreflecting action, the thirst for practical utility, 
championing of instinct over intellect, these are the main points of 
attack on contemporary society made both by La Trahison and 
Lewis' The Art of Being Ruled. 

It was in this "key-book," as he himself calls it, that Lewis first 
outlined his view of human society. It is a society divided into two 
components, which must be kept apart. These two components, 
reminiscent of Nietzsche's master and herd, are defined in the same 
way by several of the French antiromanticists, especially by Las- 
serre in his work on Maurras and the classical renaissance. In Time 

5. Wyndham Lewis, The Art of Being Ruled (New York, Harper, 1926), pp. 


34 Politics 

and Western Man Lewis makes this a distinction between "persons" 
and "things" in the classical sense: "Persona for the Roman meant 
a free person only; a slave was not a person, but a res or thing." In 
Paleface this is elaborated as follows: "In Rome what constituted 
'abnormality' was the being either a slave, a stranger or a minor 
(of whatever age) within the potestas of some head of a family. 
A slave and, originally, a stranger, a 'peregrinus,' was legally a 
'thing' . . . All animals were naturally 'things' — a lion in the 
forest or a wild bee was a 'res nuUius,' but a watch-dog or a slave 
was not 'wild,' so could not be affected to another person than 
his owner by capture." ^ 

Although he contradicts himself as to who enjoyed the status of 
Roman persona,"^ Lewis generally refers in the "person" to the 
ideally normal, free, and (for him) formal element in the State, 
as opposed to the "thing" who is abnormal or "wild." This division 
possesses his thinking and is the structure on which his satire is 
based. In The Art of Being Ruled he advances the same division as 
between Goethe's Natures ("persons") and puppets ( "things" ), cor- 
responding to the ruler and ruled in the authoritarian regime he 
urges in this work. In Count Your Dead we are referred to the Greek 
city-state, divided between " 'free men' " and "slaves" — the former 
constituting for Lewis "an authentic 'ruling class.' " 

Of these two elements of human society, the "changeless Many" 
and the "changeable Few," Lewis finds the former in power today. 
Throughout his work he is unbending in his belief that the main 
body of humanity is composed of "things," idiotic units who have 
no desire to feel deeply or think clearly, "hallucinated automata," 
as he calls them, or larvae, performing mice, stereotypes produced 
by similar environments and like education. Man for Lewis is "by 
nature selfish and acquisitive" — it was not for nothing that Augustus 

6. Wyndham Lewis, Paleface: The Philosophy of the "Melting-Pot" (London, 
Chatto and Windus, 1929), p. 70. 

7. For example, he writes that only "the eldest male of a roman family" was a 
"person," but a page or two later he claims that "all roman citizens" were "persons" 
(ibid., pp. 70-2). Lewis used lower case type for nationalities, on the grounds that 
being English was no more worthy of a capital letter than being sick. 

A Study of the State 35 

John called him "our new Machiavelli" ^ — and groups of men have 
neither the ability nor inclination to improve themselves. So we 
pick up, from book after book, references like the following: "In 
the mass people wish to be automata." "The mass of men ask 
nothing better than to be Puppets.'' "Men find their greatest hap- 
piness in type-life." ^ 

Most neoclassicists share this view, that the masses want freedom 
less and less as the years go by, but Lewis has always felt especially 
strongly on the point. His idea of man as "a perfectly fixed and 
'static' — corrupt, evil, untidy, incomplete — animal" ^^ naturally 
drew him to Hulme's insistence on the doctrine of original sin. In 
the mass these animals are even more corrupt and incomplete: "A 
disciplined, well-policed, herd-life is what they most desire." What 
they least desire, says Lewis, is culture, and here he echoes Benda.^^ 

Beyond this comparison one should not go, for few of the French 
antiromanticists, even Maurras, have been as extreme on this par- 
ticular point as Lewis. It is perfectly true that one finds the view 
easily enough in Pound, Eliot, and others, but it would not be fair 
to say that one finds it pressed over and over again, as in Lewis. 
Pound's money pamphlets take the same view of the masses, while 
the Student in his An Anachronism at Chinon remarks, " 'Humanity 
is a herd, eaten by perpetual follies.' " ^^ Nor is Eliot more sanguine 
on the subject: "the majority is capable neither of strong emotion 
nor of strong resistance," Eliot writes, and again, "at the moments 
when the public's interest is aroused, the public is never well enough 
informed to have the right to an opinion." ^^ 

8. Augustus John, Chiaroscuro. Fragments of an Autobiography. First series 
(London, Cape, 1952), p. 73. 

9. Art of Being Ruled, p. 173; Wyndham Lewis, The Doom of Youth (New 
York, McBride, 1932), p. 93; Rude Assignment, p. 178. 

10. Men without Art, p. 211. 

11. Julien Benda, Belphegor. Essai sur Vesthetique de la prisente societe fran- 
gaise. (Paris, fimile-Paul Freres, 1919), p. viii. 

12. Pound, Pavannes, p. 18. 

13. T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1934), p. 60; 
T. S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1940), 
p. 8. 

36 Politics 

To some extent such passages can be paralleled, of course, in 
Arnold's Discourses in America, and Eliot's lecture on Arnold at 
Harvard on March 3, 1933, began by a quotation from Norton 
to the effect that "the rise of the democracy to power" is "the rise 
of the uncivilized." 

But Lewis is far more committed and does not trouble to 
hide behind that kind of evasive prose of which Eliot has shown 
himself such a master; such statements Kathleen Nott calls Eliot's 
"common evasive prudence which is so often nearly prudish," and 
Bernard Bergonzi describes them as "of such numbing ambiguity 
that they both demand and defy analysis." Not only are the "change- 
less Many" a crowd of useless "things" for Lewis, they actively 
detest freedom and long dearly for someone to take it from them: 
"Do most people really ever desire 'freedom'? . . . The answer 
... is an emphatic No! Freedom and irresponsibility are com- 
mutative terms, where the average man is concerned. The majority 
of men have to be persuaded or coerced into freedom . . . Ninety 
percent of men long at all times for a leader." ^^ 

These words were written in 1936, and a second world war has 
not shaken the conviction they express. "The average man," he 
writes in 1950, "would rather rely upon somebody else . . . His 
will is feeble. He is always in search of a Leader (a Fiihrer, a 
'Strong Man')." The "changeless Many" still simply want to "hear 
'their master's voice,' which it is their joy to obey." 

There are two ideas subsidiary to this opinion; the first is that 
for Lewis, as not for Maurras or Eliot, the "changeless Many," or 
group of society comprised of "things," is composed of all social 
classes. "Curse abysmal inexcusable middle-class (also Aristocracy 
and Proletariat)," we read in Blast No. 1. Cantleman sees the 
English upper classes as " 'Arrogant and crafty sheep!' " William 
Bland Burn equally dislikes the "gentleman-animal," while in a 
story in The New Statesman for March 1, 1924, a character called 
Arouet Utchat, a clerk in an imaginary French dependency, writes 

14. Left Wings, p. 294. 

A Study of the State 2>1 

a document to his country's Senate attacking both upper and lower 
classes (he is at once arrested and flung into jail). Shakespeare's 
Coriolanus is taken to some extent by Lewis as a criticism of the 
English upper-class system in The Lion and the Fox. But nowhere 
is the "top-dog herd" (as Lewis called the upper classes in Men 
without Art) so abusively attacked as in The Mysterious Mr. Bull. 
This "unbiassed portrait of John Bull" which appeared in 1938 
and was quickly translated into German as Bin Tugendspiegel des 
Engldnders is a criticism of the repressive social machinery of the 
so-called English gentleman. John Bull, of this type, is depicted as 
a thoroughgoing imbecile who adulates idiocy and regards stupidity 
as an article of faith. So the herd of "things" is for Lewis drawn 
from all sections of society, being distinguished only by lack of 
intelligence; it is the "moronic majority" which dominates The 
Human Age. Yet, although it is important to make this distinction, 
as Geoffrey Grigson does in his sympathetic study of Lewis, it 
should not be exaggerated. There is no doubt but that the intel- 
ligence which alone distinguishes a "person" from a "thing" is 
more likely to be located for Lewis in the upper classes if only 
because they are more educated. 

There is one place, and one place only to date, in Lewis' satire 
where he enters into an extended picture of the English working 
classes. This is at the funeral of Vincent Penh ale's father in The 
Vulgar Streak. It is, to say the least, an unattractive portrait gallery 
— a drunken mother who refuses her husband solace in his last 
moments, a jealous sister (Minnie), a hypocritical elder brother 
— and the intention of the satire is indubitably to deride the in- 
dolence of the "changeless Many." The working classes ("the worst 
snobs of the lot") are here shown as totally unwilling to change their 
status of underdog in England, and there is, in harmony with this 
suggestion, the author's reflection on "the so-called working-woman, 
who in England does so little work." In the same way the story 
called "The Rot," the central piece of Rotting Hill, is designed to 
point up the English working man's laziness. We find this attitude 

38 Politics 

even more extremely in Roy Campbell, whose extroverted and often 
beautiful autobiographies owe so much to Lewis' social criticism. 
So Campbell writes in Broken Record of the working classes: "I 
found them to be mostly treacherous; this probably accounts for 
the growing popularity of dogs in Europe, to make up for the lack 
of fidelity in servants." I am not interested in taking issue with this 
view, but it is necessary to advance it to balance the idea, put for- 
ward by Grigson, that Lewis attacks all social classes without dis- 
crimination. According to Lewis himself, he does, but the weight 
of his persuasion is against the lower classes, and sincerely so, for 
their "thing"-ness. What he is really criticizing in the "thing" is 
what Blenner-Cantleman calls the "Crowd-Spirit," the congealing 
of mankind into stupid groups, into what Maurras calls "le myriapode 
democratique." The "thing" is only half-alive, if that. So Lewis will 
often write of "these masses of half-dead people, for whom per- 
sonal extinction is such a tiny step, out of half -living into no-living, 
so what does it matter?" ^^ 

This brings us to the second point concerning his definition of 
the "thing." For Lewis takes with him to his satire the principles 
of seventeenth-century automatism, the Cartesian thesis (later modi- 
fied by its originator) that the more animal an organism is, the 
more mechanical it is. And Lewis borrows also from Bergson's Le 
Rire in using as the food for laughter the human animal atrophied 
into a machine. The "thing" for Lewis is a cross between animal 
and machine, a Prole in fact, living in a blueprint of the present 
{''The present man in all of us is the machine"). ^^ This "wild body," 
or "savage Robot" ^^ as he calls the same element elsewhere, is 
therefore mechanical in a special sense. So Lewis uses "mechanical" 
to mean, as we would expect, mechanized, connected with actual 
machinery, and also to mean "thing"-like, that is, coerced by the 
environment or culture group, driven into the state of utter primi- 

15. Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 115. 

16. The Tyro No. 2 (London, The Egoist Press, 1923), p. 35. 

17. Art of Being Ruled, p. 170. 

A Study of the State 39 

tivity and animality by lack of awareness and intelligence. In the 
Phaedo Socrates recounts his disappointment in the alleged intel- 
lect of Anaxagoras, which he finds "altogether forsaking mind" 
(Jowett trans.) by emphasis on mechanical matter. It is shortly 
after this that Socrates discusses the idea of man as vortex. If we 
did not concede Lewis too this terminology, we would only be con- 
fused by finding him calling the American Negro "mechanical," 
and criticizing D. H. Lawrence for championing the "mechanical" 
Mexicans. He also calls the African Riff, in his travel book Fili- 
busters in Barbary, a machine in this special sense, as he does the 
ordinary English workman. Obviously Lewis sees that Negroes, 
Riffs, and Mexicans are less mechanized than white men; what he 
is saying is that they are "thing"-like, standing on the lowest rung 
of existence and, through no fault of their own, lacking in intel- 
lectual qualities. Unless one accepts this terminology, one cannot 
understand Lewis when he writes, of an emotional character like 
Bertha of Tarr, that "The machine, the sentimental, the indis- 
criminate side of her awoke." 

So much for the "thing." What of the "person," that noble element 
of society, the quintessential core of the human individual rapidly 
disappearing because of our laziness and love of stereotyped life? 
First, the "person" is born, not made. A "thing" can never become 
a "person," and — "we are not all born Shakespeares." The "person" 
is the true individual, opposed to the social stereotype, free of group 
or class "rhythm," and the only element in the State who matters. 
"Personality is the only thing that matters in the world," he writes 
in his first book on Hitler, asking us to associate with "person"- 
ality shades of meaning embodied in the concept of Roman persona. 
Other neoclassicists use "personality" in the same privileged sense, 
but they usually take more care to carry their readers with them. The 
new humanism Maritain calls for should be, thus, "persommliste," 
in this sense, but Maritain gives a clear description of what his 
medieval and Christian "person" is: "Une personne, c'est un 
inverse de nature spirituelle doue de la liberte de choix et con- 

40 Politics 

stituant pour autant un tout independant en face du monde, ni la 
nature ni I'Etat ne peuvent mordre sur cet univers sans sa permis- 
sion." 18 

For Lewis this "person" is alone fully free. He is the form, 
or abstract, of the human being and a core, or cadre, of "persons" 
in the State will give us a governing elite from which the values 
of society should spring. Lewis denies proposing an elite, making 
distinctions to which I will come back below, but it is safe to say 
that for him a body of "persons" will provide that "gifted few" 
which Babbitt hoped also to see at the head of the contemporary 
State. 1^ This "person" alone resists the "discontinuity" of class or 
race, and is frequently called the "Not-Self." 

Clearly the Not-Self is associated with the classical "anti-self" 
of Yeats and others. Certainly it is for Lewis the "antithetical 
being," in the sense that it is everything the ordinary man is not. In 
his attack on Spengler in Time and Western Man Lewis makes a 
passionate plea for "spatial" thought over "temporal" feeling, and 
writes, "what we think is not us, or is the Not-self." In 1925 he 
published an article explaining this principle and later printed 
this essay as a "commentary" to go with his play The Enemy of the 
Stars. Here we are told that the Not-Self represents real truth, and 
that such is death for the average man. The Not-Self is therefore 
hated by the majority: "It is an enemy principle." Housed in the 
intellect the Not-Self shows "the human mind in its traditional 
role of the enemy of life, as an oddity outside the machine." ^^ 

This is Babbitt's "distinguished person." Equated with truth, 
the property only of intellectual genius, the Not-Self is the only 

18. Jacques Maritain, Humanisme integral (Paris, Feraand Aubier, 1936), p. 17. 

19. Irving Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 
1924), p. 193. 

20. Wyndham Lewis, The Enemy of the Stars (London, Desmond Harmsworth, 
1932), p. 51. Lewis thought this an important description evidently, for he itali- 
cized it when first printing it. Wyndham Lewis, "The Physics of the Not-Self," 
The Chapbook (A Yearly Miscellany), ed. Harold Monro, No. 40 (London, 
Cape, 1925), p. 68. 

A Study of the State 41 

element of society which really desires change, rather than "prog- 
ress." The will of the masses, for Lewis, is conservative; they do 
not desire change. In consequence, what we call revolution is merely 
a difference in kind, rather than in value, a "horizontal" affair. 
The indolent Many, therefore, desiring "progress" of this sort, are 
what he calls "creatures of habit" rather than "creatures of 
change." ^^ True revolution, genuine social change, can only come 
from the head of the State, where intelligence is lodged — "To think 
being to change'* is axiomatic for Lewis. If we follow this line of 
reasoning we will see why preservation of the Not-Self is of im- 
portance to the whole of society; and we will better understand 
One-Way Song which satirizes lovers of "progress," standardized 
and unconscious creatures who are supposedly looking forward 
but who, in reality, have "THAT BACKWARD FEELING" (this 
is a pun on the popular Kruschen Salts advertisement of the time, 
advocating "That Kruschen Feeling"). 

The Hegelian Not-Self is the epitome of the "person." Neither 
Hugh Kenner nor Cecil F. Melville, who has made an intelligent 
appraisal of Lewis' politics, agrees with this analysis, but it is un- 
doubtedly "the Physics of the Not-Self." Our duty is to preserve 
this heroic being. The man who gives in to the group, or "group- 
rhythm," lacks identity, surrenders "continuity," and becomes a 
prey to the fluxes of his time. He becomes "split," in the sense of 
divided against himself, against those minute particles of the Not- 
Self left within him. This type Lewis predicates as the Split-Man, 
exemplifying him as Jamesjulius (James Joyce) Ratner of The 
Apes of God. It should be made clear that this "split" is a longi- 
tudinal cleft, as Horace Zagreus explains and as is shown by the 
drawing at the beginning of Part v of The Apes, called "The 
Split-Man" and characterizing Ratner. This creature, that is to 
say, is divided against himself, possessed of Pound's "schismatic 
tendency"; he is not split in the sense that he has two separate per- 

21. Wyndham Lewis, "Creatures of Habit and Creatures of Change," The Cal- 
endar, 3, No. 1 (April 1926), 17-44. 


42 Politics 

sonalities, like Jekyll and Hyde. Some of the more absurd appel- 
lants at the Bailiff's Court in The Childermass are "split-men or 

The idea of continuity, which this element of society is revoking, 
can almost be called a precept of the neoclassicist. For Eliot con- 
tinuity of culture is virtually wisdom,^- while Seilliere discovers 
his regenerating principle ("raison") in the continuity of human 
experience.^^ Lewis agrees with these thinkers: "The more highly 
developed an individual is, or the more civilized a race, this dis- 
continuity tends to disappear. The 'personality' is born. Continuity, 
in the individual as in the race, is the diagnostic of a civilized 
condition." ^^ So Corcoran, at loose in America, notes with distaste 
the "discontinuity of the American psyche." 

In the ideal State it is the function of the artist, Lewis says, to 
maintain our continuity. As he wrote in Blast No. 2, "the purest 
art is not tyrannic but is continuous," and art should ideally 
preserve our "differentiation of existence." Is not this the duty of 
Benda's clerc? Yes, with one distinction. Benda's clerc is the dis- 
interested intellectual who presumably exists (though Benda does 
not say this) in all spheres of intellectual activity. I think Benda 
would admit an entirely impartial scientist as a clerc, but Lewis 
will not allow science the ability to maintain our continuity. In 
fact, for him it does the reverse. Science, especially when in the 
hands of Einstein, is on the side of the "thing" today, merging us all 
into "a mutually devouring mass," a criticism it would be rash to 
dismiss in the mid-nineteen fifties. Science uses the intellect "on 
the popular plane," keeping all down to a helpless norm, making 
it impossible for the Not-Self to emerge. 

From the start of his career Lewis saw through the contemporary 
"individualist." No, the true individual today must be "an in- 

22. Eliot, Christian Society, p. 41. 

23. Ernest Seilliere, Pour le centenaire du romantisme . Un examen de con- 
science (Paris, Champion, 1927), pp. 267-71. 

24. Art of Being Ruled, p. 235. I have purposely selected another quotation to 
give the reader an idea of Lewis' special use of "person"-ality. 

A Study of the State 43 

delicate interloper, a walking lie, a disturbing absurdity." And he, 
the gifted "person," must work for those beneath him since he 
represents that principle of authority delegated from the divine. ^^ 
"I demand no absolute, except only God," he wrote in One-Way 
Song and, although he has opposed organized religion, he yields 
to the idea that there is a spiritual power related to us all, in the 
same way that the "person" is related to the "thing" in the social 
body. Thus, all the more reason that our terrestrial system should 
be authoritarian and hierarchic, in order to reflect the heavenly one 
more truly. For since it follows that if the "thing" gains too much 
power an imbalance will result, is it not in the interests of all that 
the white man's hierarchic system, with its strong sense of discipline, 
should be preserved? ^^ 

These are Lewis' general political principles. If they are not 
adhered to, as they are not today, ideological anarchy results, such 
as he criticizes through various writers, and we are faced with a 
series of contemporary excesses, or "group-rhythms." 

25. This divine source of manhood is only occasionally hinted at in Lewis' 
work. It can be found throughout The Art of Being Ruled, in the recent The 
Writer and the Absolute (see p. 127), and in various pronouncements on graphic 
art I will instance below. 

26. Art of Being Ruled, pp. 226 ff. Lewis' detachment is such that he can later 
describe his politics at the time of writing these words as that of a "straight 
'leftwinger'" (Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 234), and the authoritarian regime 
he urges in The Art of Being Ruled as, later, a "classless society" {Hitler Cult, 
p. 21). 

Chapter 2: The *' Group-Rhythm" 

'A class is a corral." [Rude Assignment, p. 178.] 

Uniformity of opinion in the State, of the type attacked by 
Benda in La Trahison especially when manipulated as a political 
passion, works against the principle of the Not-Self, and so the 
group is always loathsome to Lewis. "Yourself must be your Caste," 
is the advice to the Herdsman, reiterated nearly a quarter of a 
century later in Anglosaxony — ''ourselves is our political principle." 

In a lecture given at Brown University in 1926 Babbitt stressed 
the necessity for proportion and for the rejection of overemphasis 
in the true humanist (in his sense). The group-rhythm that Lewis 
describes, a coagulation of individuals into mass units, is an excess, 
and one which, moreover, leads to war — "wherever you have a 
Class, there you have a War," Seilliere, though a far more temperate 
writer than Lewis, equally finds the contemporary Western de- 
mocracy susceptible to the group-rhythm, or "mysticisme de 
groupe." Using mysticisme in a special sense, as the invoking of 
abstract ideas in order to assist man in overcoming the exterior 
world, Seilliere finds "mysticisme de classe" an attribute of democ- 

Here, of course, we reach the real reason why Lewis spent so 
much time on attacking the contemporary group-rhythm, for it 
is an anti-authoritarian phenomenon. In Rude Assignment he defines 
his most disliked group-rhythms as five: class war (poor versus 
rich), sex war (woman versus man), age war (young versus old), 
lowbrow against highbrow, and urban man against agricultural 

1. Ernest Seilliere, Le Romantisme (Paris, Stock, 1925), p. 121. 

The "Group-Rhythm'* 45 

man. Apart from the urban-agricultural war, on which he does 
not often take a stand, Lewis is here defining what he sees as war- 
fare between emotional anarchy (poor, woman, young, lowbrow) 
and intellectual authority (rich, man, old, highbrow). One should 
perhaps further qualify this by pointing out that he never actually 
champions the rich as such, on one hand, while, on the other, the 
poor or working classes are so low in mentality for Lewis as scarcely 
to reach the level of lowbrows — in fact, he calls them " 'no-brows.' " 

During the section of Lord Osmund's party in The Apes called 
"At the American Bar," the unpleasant Split-Man Ratner associates 
the poor, women, and young in his mind with "wild nature to be 
encouraged to flourish at the expense of contriving intelligent Man." 
Ratner feels a (ridiculed) pang of sympathy for "all oppressed 
classes — women, miners, children, Jews, horses, servants, negroes, 
frogs, footballs, carpets during Spring-cleaning, Zoo-reptiles, ca- 
naries and so forth." Roy Campbell, a writer Lewis explicitly ad- 
mires and whom he has probably introduced into three of his 
satires,^ has almost exactly the same catalogue in his Author's Note 
to Flowering Rifle. "Humanitarianism," Campbell writes here, "sides 
automatically with the Dog against the Man, the Jew against the 
Christian, the black against the white, the servant against the 
master, the criminal against the judge." 

For in Rude Assignment Lewis omits one group-rhythm which 

2. At the end of Rotting Hill some obvious friends of the Enemy are assembled, 
and include Roy Campbell (Rotting Hill, p. 260). This reference seems to have 
angered Campbell. Roy Campbell, "A Note on W. L.," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 
(Summer/ Autumn 1953), p. 75. Augustus John suggests that Campbell was the 
model for McPhail in Snooty Baronet (John, Chiaroscuro, p. 114), an attribution 
Campbell accepts, for it is a fairly direct portrait. Roy Campbell, Broken Record. 
Reminiscences (London, Boriswood, 1934), p. 8. 

Thirdly, Campbell claims that he sat for the character of Zulu Blades of The 
Apes of God (Roy Campbell, Light on a Dark Horse, Chicago, Henry Regnerv, 
1952, p. 220), although in The Apes itself Zulu is described as a "disgusting beast." 
Finally, Campbell is frequently praised by Lewis (cf. Men without Art, p. 160) 
and clearly has much in common with the neoclassical movement I am studying 
here. His interest in Mistral, for instance, is found in Maurras and again in Las- 
serre's Mise au point of 1931 and elsewhere. 

46 Politics 

he has often attacked, namely the race or color war of black against 
white, which is the thesis of Paleface. Indeed, "Race is the queen 
of the 'classes,' " he writes, and again, "class in primitive society 
always involves race." ^ Race, utilized politically, can be also a 
group-rhythm; this is what he means when, in The Jews, Are 
They Human? he associates sex with race. Both can be blind organ- 
izations of the human individual. Here I shall only examine the three 
group-rhythms that have principally attracted his attention, the 
color war, the age war, and the sex war. 

In the case of the first, it must always be remembered that Lewis 
frequently pleads for better treatment for the American Negro who 
suffers, he says, "a monstrous social injustice." ^ In Paleface, how- 
ever, a call is made to the white man to resist worship of the 
"underdog" in the name of the Negro. Lewis, after all, was writing 
on top of books by D. H. Lawrence and Sherwood Anderson in 
which the resources of the colored races on the American continent 
were highly admired. Lewis sees the American Negro as "racially 
a sort of Proletariat," and the criticism is made that the white 
races are suffering an inferiority complex vis-a-vis the colored. This 
growing sense of disbelief in himself on the part of the white man 
faced with black superiority (or "negro-worship") — a fantastic 
idea but to be found in Pound's Indiscretions — should be countered, 
Lewis advocates, by an "esprit de peau" among the white races. ^ 

3. Art of Being Ruled, p. 234; Wyndham Lewis, The Lion and the Fox (New 
York, Harper, 1927), p. 306. The reader will also find in this latter book the state- 
ment that "Class in these adjustments is, of course, the great rival of race" (Lion 
and Fox, p. 295). But Lewis is consistent, for he goes on to explain that genius 
must be raceless and that all true personality must overcome "the mechanical 
ascendancy" (p. 296) of both class and race. He adds that social class, though 
involved with race, is more easily fixed and coheres more readily into the group- 
rhythm than race. Thus, in a sense, it is a "rival" of race. 

4. Rude Assignment, p. 203; America and Cosmic Man, pp. 107, 196-7, 208. 
Further sympathy for the American Negro is shown in Wyndham Lewis, "Ameri- 
can Melting Pot," Contact Books, 2 (London, Contact Books, Weidenfeld and 
Nicolson, Oct. 1946), 58. 

5. Paleface, pp. 7-21; Lewis' first reference to the idea of the racial "melting- 
pot" of America can be found ten years before Paleface in The Caliph's Design 
(London, The Egoist Ltd., 1919), p. 46. 

The "Group-Rhythm'* 47 

Looking back on Paleface later Lewis denies that he was attacking 
the Negro race but asserts that he was laughing at the white man for 
permitting himself to be bamboozled into the idea that the colored 
man was his superior. This is a fair, if mild, description of the work. 

At the bottom of it is Lewis' belief, so far from that of Anderson 
or Lawrence, that it is senseless to encourage Negro aspiration 
since the Negro has no cultural reserves in the true sense, and is 
simply infecting the world with lowered standards. Jazz is taken 
as symbolic of these and Lewis' dislike of Negro jazz, so popular 
of course in European cafe society of the twenties, is epitomized in 
the nigger-heaven episode of The ChildermassJ^ In this work there 
are parodies of both D. H. Lawrence and Anderson, and one of 
the first things we meet in the Third City of Monstre Gai is a 
derided Negro band. For Lewis always associates jazz with the 
lower, emotional elements of society and so here the jazz band is 
staffed "with a mixed Jewish and negro personnel." On the other 
hand, Starr-Smith, the well-disciplined blackshirt of The Apes, feels 
no affection for the Negro behind the American Bar at Lord 
Osmund's (unlike the other characters), and we are explicitly in- 
formed that he was no friend of "Tropical Man." 

The "imperialism of Black serfdom" is what Lewis tells us in 
1950 he was criticizing in Paleface. The work itself, by setting out 
to counter cultural productions on behalf of the Negro, is a neo- 
classical attempt to redress a balance. For Lewis' sense of justice 
suffers at the sight of "the literary Borzoi big-guns of Mr. Knopf" 
stampeding us into hero-worship of the Negro, an adulation spon- 
sored primarily by the socialist: "it is conscience that makes cowards, 
or saints, or just sentimental pinky-pinky Palefaces of us." ' The 
idea that the color war is the fault of the socialist is used elsewhere, 
but neatly reversed to suit another argument, so that in America 
and Cosmic Man Lewis alleges that the socialist is responsible for 
for racial discrimination in America.^ Yet, although the sociaUst is 

6. Wyndham Lewis, The Child ermass: Section i (London, Chatto and Windus, 
1928), pp. 168 ff. 

7. Paleface, p. 6. 

8. America and Cosmic Man, p. 197. 

48 Politics 

sponsoring Negro culture, as well as racial discrimination, we also 
read here that "the Capitalist ... is the natural protector of all 
colored people, because they work for less money." This would 
conflict with Pound's idea, expressed in a recent money pamphlet, 
that the freeing of Negro slaves in America was due to "usurocracy" 
(Campbell also writes, "No colour feeling ever existed until slavery 
was abolished"), but it provides a convenient introduction to that 
habit of mind with which Lewis puts all his enemies in one camp. 
Often one's immediate impulse is to reject these extreme ideas, 
tossed out to epater le bourgeois, as ridiculously rococo social 
history, but one should be on one's guard against this. For what 
Lewis is criticizing in the group-rhythm is opposition to the intel- 
lect and, if one cannot go with him all the way in his criticism of the 
Negro (as when in 1936 he complains that England is sponsoring 
Negro aggression), certain of his arguments in this connection 
are suggestive. He strongly objects to the harnessing of these groups, 
such as the Negro or the young, in the interests of big business, 
because he sees that the commercial capitalist will be interested in 
keeping the group down in a state of unthinking acquiescence, 
usually by means of popular culture. Here Lewis is often thought 
to have made valuable criticisms of our society in advance.^ 

The age war is the organized strife between emotional youth 
and intelligent old age. Youth, like the Negro or woman, is op- 
posed to tradition and discipline; all are concerned with attacking 
the father-principle of authority. ^^ Benda similarly criticized the 

9. I am thinking of a work like Herbert Marshall McLuhan's The Mechanical 
Bride (New York, Vanguard, 1951), a recent lively criticism of popular culture 
in America, which expresses indebtedness to Lewis' early criticisms at many points 
(pp. 68, 92, 102, 108, 143-4.) I am also indebted to Professor J. B. Brebner 
for calling my attention to the interest in Lewis' theories about popular culture 
taken by the late Dean Harold A. Innis, of the University of Toronto (as was 
McLuhan). The Bias of Communication and Changing Concepts of Time, both 
by Innis, contain unindexed reference to Lewis. 

10. W^yndham Lewis, The Doom of Youth (New York, McBride, 1932), pp. 60, 
104, 201, 253. Lewis, The Old Gang and the New Gang, p. 19. This latter work 
was published as a "sister-book" the year after The Doom of Youth, which was in 

The ''Group-Rhythm'' 49 

organization of youth for political purposes,^ ^ but to follow the 
youth war in France would mean engaging with ambiguous writers 
like de Montherlant, Saint-Exupery, and that "romantique dompte" 
(as Andre Maurois calls him) , de Lacretelle. And in any case Benda 
does not go as far as Lewis in claiming that capital encourages the 
youth war (as it encourages feminism) as a reduction in the rational 
faculties it has to face. As an appeal to the irrational the youth 
war is encouraged both by big business and the social revolutionary. 
In 1932 Lewis published The Doom of Youth, in title a parody 
on Alec Waugh's The Loom of Youth. The work attacked the en- 
couragement of intense consciousness of youth, in an endeavor to 
reverse the values of experience. For youth, trained, militarized, 
rigidly organized (and organized to appear spontaneous and un- 
rigid), was being pitted against individual genius. ^^ It was becoming 
"mechanical." This exploitation of youth Lewis laid at the door of 
the Futurists and the Italian Fascists in the first instance, but the 
period following the first World War was everywhere fertile in 
"youth-politics," since the male principle, representing authority, 
had shown itself capable of being overthrown. The result was that 
youth and woman could more easily take hold of values. And he 
has again found this situation (utilized by Jean-Paul Sartre) after 
the second World War.^^ Briefly then, "youth-politics" aims to 
shorten human life by insistence on being young (the "doom" of 

England quickly withdrawn from publication. The second short book, however, 
adds little. Roughly speaking, it defines the "old gang" as the old school of 
capitalist politician (such as Baldwin), the "new gang" as the new kind of 
politician emerging (the dictators), a distinction to be found also in ch. 8 of 
The Doom of Youth. Pt. i of Old Gang and New Gang is written in a deliberately 
"nursery" style, both to marry with the subject matter and, as Lewis mischievously 
suggests, to assist critics. Pt. ii largely consists in an elaborate discrediting of 
Erich Maria Remarque. 

11. Benda, Trahison, p. 91. 

12. Doom of Youth, pp. 138-42; ch. 15, Pt. ii, is entitled "The 'Group' Versus 
the 'Individual.' " 

13. Wyndham Lewis, The Writer and the Absolute (London, Methuen, 1952), 
p. 56. 

50 Politics 

youth), to level genius, break up family life, encourage precocity 
and radicalism, extinguish the true individual, effeminize values, 
and turn youth into a unique value at the same time as (in fact) 
abolishing it, a divide et impera policy on the part of big business 
aimed both at cheap labor and an uncritical consumer public.^'* 

This "study of Youth seen as a class" is made use of in Lewis' 
satire, particularly in the character of the fatuous young "genius," 
Dan Boleyn of The Apes, and in the horrible Third City of The 
Human Age. But in its critical applications Lewis is not always 
consistent. For if we pick up Rude Assignment of 1950 we find, 
as we might expect. Hitler described as an arch youth-politician, 
dragooning youth for militant purposes even more savagely than 
had Baden-Powell in the Boy Scout movement. If we refer to Hitler, 
however, we find Lewis actually praising Hitler's youth-politics. 
Hitler's youth, at the start of the thirties, is "Youth with its eyes 
wide open!" ^^ Hitler is depicted as making youth more sensible 
and informed (the book carries an illustration of German youth 
watching "democracy" at work in the Reichstag) and, above all, 
anti-Communist. In the same way, in 1927, Lewis had expressed 
the hope that the organization of youth might be made fruitful 
by the Action Frangaise which was presenting youth with a purpose. 
Later, in Men without Art, he was to bemoan the lack of serious 
purpose in British youth. ^^ 

This kind of inconsistency, or philosophical acrobatic, naturally 
casts doubt on Lewis' sincerity in political criticism, but before 
we spring to attack him we should bear in mind that his first 
book on Hitler appeared mainly as a series of articles in Time and 
Tide in 1931, after a visit to Germany the year before. A glance 
through the periodical press in England at this time soon shows 
that few understood the direction Hitler was to take. In 1932, 

14. Doom of Youth, pp. 259-65. 

15. Wyndham Lewis, Hitler (London, Chatto and Windus, 1931), p. 99. 

16. The Enemy No. 2 (London, The Arthur Press, Sept. 1927), p. xxvii; Men 
without Art, pp. 249-50. 

The "Group-Rhythm" 51 

the year after Hitler, Lewis is openly critical of the German youth 
cult,^^ and he repeats this criticism in the year following. ^^ 

It is in Hitler that we are told that, like the age war, the sex war 
is rooted in revolutionary humanitarianism, backed by the Geld- 
mensch. Lewis had previously made the same criticism in The Art 
of Being Ruled, while in Time and Western Man he indicted Sex 
beside Romance, asserting that the classical world was untroubled 
by any "sex-cult." On this subject, by arraigning woman under 
the general head of what the French neoclassicists like to call "le 
mal romantique," Lewis stands closely beside the French critics 

But it was a German, Karl Joel, who anticipated this side of 
French antiromanticism in 1896, in a work devoted to criticizing 
the influence of women in philosophy. Joel warned: "Zwei Gafahren 
scheint das zur Ruste gehende Jahrhundert den kommenden zu 
vererben: den Feminismus, die Verweiblichung der Kultur, und 
den Barbarismus . . . beides sind Todeswege flir die Kultur." ^^ 

Tarr was to think precisely the same: "Surrender to a woman 
was a sort of suicide for an artist." And when Tarr reflects "God 
was man: the woman was a lower form of life," we realize how 
deeply under the spell of French neoclassicism this book was 
written. Tarr early associates Sex with Romance in his conversa- 
tion with Butcher, and Sex itself appears for him, after all, in the 
form of Bertha and Anastasya, creatures both German and female. 
The shadow of Madame de Stael stands behind both characteriza- 

Although Seifliere saw woman at the head of romanticism, it 

17. Doom of Youth, p. 5. 

18. Old Gang and New Gang, pp. 17-19; however in The Doom of Youth 
we again find him suggesting that German youth politics could be a satisfactory 
development, if youth can be made serious thereby (p. 247), and he reasons 
that in any case Hitler's youth politics are not nearly as belligerent as Com- 
munist youth politics (pp. 66-70). 

19. Karl Joel, Die Frauen in der Philosophie (Hamburg, Verlagsanstalt und 
Druckerei A-G, 1896), p. 53. 

52 Politics 

was Maurras and Lasserre who devoted more space than any of 
their colleagues to this question. Maurras' Le Romantisme feminin 
is often an attack on woman as agent of "le mal romantique." Las- 
serre devotes a chapter of his Le Romantisme frangais to "Le 
Sacerdoce de la femme." For Lasserre here the female of the species 
has been overemancipated. Masculine intelligence is everywhere 
abdicating before feminine instability and emotion. The sane man 
is usually concerned with the real, the weak, romantic woman with 
the ideal (especially with the ideal of happiness). ^^ Lasserre alludes 
to Nietzsche's remark that if you are going to make love to a 
woman, take your whip with you. As Lewis often mentions this 
also, it probably explains Tarr's treatment of Bertha. Like Las- 
serre, Benda also associates women with sensation, modern woman 
adoring sensation in a way entirely foreign to her seventeenth- 
century French forebear. "Toute Vestketique moderne est faite pour 
les femmes," ^^ writes Benda. And it is perhaps from Benda that 
Lewis borrows most here. Characteristic male chauvinism can be 
seen in Benda's early U Ordination or Les Amorandes (while in 
Germany the neoclassical von Scholz's even earlier Der Besiegte 
features a hero who brings death to the sexual embrace) . In Benda's 
U Ordination, which first appeared in Peguy's Cahiers de la quinzaine 
in 1911 and 1912, Felix, the hero, has the same Tarr-like entangle- 
ment with sensation, in the person of Madeleine: "L'esthetique de 
I'amour reste toujours l'esthetique de la chaine et des larmes," 
Felix concludes; "l'esthetique de I'amour a ete faite pour les 
femmes." ^^ He quotes Nietzsche and yearns for "la vraie vie intel- 
lectuelle." It is essentially, of course, the well-known Swiftian 
antithesis: "when I began to consider that by copulating with one 
of the Yahoo species I had become a parent of more, it struck me 
with the utmost shame, confusion, and horror." Sir Thomas Browne 

20. Pierre Lasserre, Le Romantisme frangais (Paris, Mercure de France, 1907), 
pp. 155-72. 

21. Benda, Belphegor, pp. 112-13, 211-14. 

22. Julien Benda, U Ordination (Paris, £mile-Paul, 1913), pp. 58-9. 

The "Group-Rhythm" 53 

had wished "that there were any way to perpetuate the World with- 
out this trivial and vulgar v/ay of union." Nor is T. S. Eliot entirely 
free of this anti-feminism; the death of some woman recurs in 
his work from Sweeney Agonistes to The Cocktail Party. Need- 
less to say, none of these writers would find anything to quarrel with 
in Lewis' belief that feminine values today are "the most featureless, 
boneless, softest, the most emotional." ^^ 

Nor would they but approve Tarr's attitude toward v/omen. 
Tarr's talk with Hobson at the start of Tarr is most interesting in 
this respect, and its revision for the second edition only shows 
Lewis intensifying Tarr's antagonism to romantic womanhood. 
" 'Sex is a monstrosity' " is, for example, a remark Tarr makes twice 
in the second edition. ^^ Sex (sensation) is the opposite of art (in- 
tellect); Tarr says: " 'How foul and wrong this haunting of women 
is! — they are everywhere — confusing, blurring, libelling, with their 
half-baked gushing tawdry presences! It is like a slop and spawn of 
children and the bawling machinery of the inside of life, always 
and all over our palaces.' " 

Women for Tarr, being emotional and "jellyish," are close to 
the animal, and therefore "mechanical." This bias is particularly 
noticeable in the early Lewis. The Herdsman is advised, "As to 
women: wherever you can, substitute the society of men." In the 
same year (1917) Ker-Orr, the central character of The Wild 
Body stories, says, " 'Sex' makes me yawn my head off." It is true 
that the idea recurs, but it is mitigated, and in Rotting Hill we 
scarcely meet it. But what so clearly shows the French neoclassical 
influence on Tarr, as nowhere else in Lewis' work, is its thesis of 
emotional Sex being an especially German appetite. As opposed to 
Tarr, the intellectual Englishman who abhors this kind of Sex, the 
German Kreisler believes in "the efficacity of women." Kreisler 
likes women (nay, rapes them), and this is one reason why he 

23. Doom of Youth, p. 210. 

24. Cf. Wyndham Lewis, Tarr (London, The Egoist Ltd., 1918), p. 8; Tarr 
(London, Chatto and Windus, 1928), p. 7. 

54 Politics 

is drawn to the emotional Liepmann circle (originally spelt Lip- 
mann or Lippmann). Nor can the nationality of either Bertha or 
Anastasya be considered accidental. To the English reader of the 
time Bertha would recall one of their principal enemies, the famous 
Big Bertha artillery piece, symbol of Teutonic barbarism that fired 
on the city of the intellect, Paris, from a distance of seventy miles, 
while Anastasya is described in the Prologue to the first edition as 
"the Munich German Madonna." 

The dislike of woman as an agent of Romance occurs somewhat 
in other satires, but not to the same extent. No women appear in 
The Childermass, and in The Human Age they are kept in what 
is called "a pen incommunicado." ^^ In the recent The Red Priest 
we read of Mary Chillingham: "For such a woman to be able to 
think was as rare as to find a famous man, undominated by his 
fame." And Mary is later caused to vomit, by one of her husband's 
actions. ^^ Contact with the female kind is such a capitulation to 
the animal that there is literally no instance in Lewis' work of 
happy, fruitful sexual love between man and woman, as there so 
supremely is in Joyce's work. "Cantleman's Spring-Mate" is the 
only story by Lewis in which sex is nuclear, and even Cantleman 
reflects that women are "spies or enemies." Snooty Baronet has 
some reference to sexual love, but Snooty, we find significantly 
enough, is made physically sick by the act of copulation, due to 
his trepanned skull, a head wound suffered in the war. This directly 
recalls Tarr, of whom we read, "Women's psychic discharges affected 
him invariably like the sight of a person being sea-sick." Thus, 
Val's bed to which Snooty is drawn is likened to a dentist's chair, 
her bedroom is a "bedridden cabinet." Jack Cruze, of The Revenge 
for Love, unusually interested in women for a leading Lewis char- 
acter, is called a "love-machine." ^^ Sometimes this antagonism to 

25. Wyndham Lewis, The Human Age (London, Methuen, 1955), p. 192. 

26. Wyndham Lewis, The Red Priest (London, Methuen, 1956), pp. 90, 241. 

27. Revenge for Love, p. 197. Jack, who absconds with Jill in this book, is 
obviously an unsympathetic character. To say that Lewis identifies with him 

The "Group-Rhythm" 55 

Sex will lead to its being sublimated in another form; in the story 
"Sigismund," for example, Deborah's sexual appeal lies in her palms 
(recalling Rose Godd of The Ideal Giant or Turgenev's hand 
fetichism),^^ while in another story a character called Pringle gets 
his sexual pleasure vicariously, out of hiring rooms. 

In passing, one should perhaps note that nearly all Lewis' women 
characters are fat, sleepy, indolent, and soft, in physical appear- 
ance, presumably in keeping with their mental make-up. Rose 
Godd, Deborah, and Bertha are all large. Hotshepsot, of The 
Enemy of the Stars, is "a big girl with a big roll in the hips." Lily 
of Snooty Baronet is "sultry about the joints." ^^ Anastasya, how- 
ever, is enormous. " 'What a big brute,' " Tarr thinks, noticing that 
she is "statuesquely genuine." One could continue the roll call in- 
definitely — ^Maddie of The Vulgar Streak, Gillian of The Revenge 
for Love, the "obese groceress" Lewis met on his travels in Filibusters 
in Barbary- — they are all large, and usually so in their posteriors. ^^ 
Occasionally this quirk will harmonize almost perfectly with the 
symbolization; the description of the peasant girl (Old Spain) at 
the beginning of The Revenge for Love is thus one of the best 
individual descriptions in Lewis' prose. Perhaps the explanation 
is given by Lewis when he says, in The Doom of Youth, "I favour 
the abundant asiatic hip — I prefer its volume for my pictures to 
the lean gothic flank of the Flemish or English." This would coincide 
with Vincent's predilection in The Vulgar Streak where April Mal- 
low is "on the heavy side," but Vincent "liked them heavy." 

Lewis in fact takes the French antiromantic suspicion of woman 
about as far as it will go. Sex is associated with everything he dis- 

strikes me as little short of ridiculous, but this criticism was recently made. 
Steven Marcus, "The Highbrow Know-Nothings," Commentary, 15, No. 2 
(Feb. 1953), 189. 

28. Rose has "large muscular hands" at which Kemp stares {Ideal Giant, p. 

29. Snooty, p. 128. And Gillian is a "highbrow hly" {Revenge for Love, p. 

30. William Bland Burn is characterized by a protuberant rump. 

56 Politics 

likes, including what he calls "Time," which we shall see is largely 
romanticism. So we read, in this vein. 

Sex is of the same clay as Time! — of the same clay 
Since both are in their essence but One-Way 
Time is the one-way dimension: sex its tart 
And subtle biological counterpart. 
But even Sex is Time, too, in a sense — 
That chronological burgeoning of men's. 
Is it not the sex-magnet eyeless that gives 
That one-way motion to a thing that lives — 

He continues to describe Sex as another "Front" for the One- 
Ways who are therefore "eyeless," since they can only blindly see 
the interior turmoil of emotional life. In the same way we find that 
the crowd Blenner-Cantleman is opposing is both female and 
blind, and by merging with it the male "embraces Death." ^^ 

In this dislike of woman Lewis has gone into social psychology, 
seeing sexual inversion (of both sexes) as another contemporary 
anti-authoritarian phenomenon. Again this criticism provides him 
with the pabulum of much satire, as it provided Roy Campbell 
with one of the themes of his Georgiad, published in 1931 and 
containing a defense of The Apes of God. More recently, Nigel 
Dennis seems to have been similarly inspired in the multiple-sex 
passages of his Cards of Identity. 

The increase of war in our society, Lewis proposes, makes women 
feel that their reproductory function is being negated, on one hand, 
and makes men feel that the institution of manhood is being cari- 
catured, on the other. The wake of a v/orld war brings with it "sex- 
transformation" ("shamanization"), implying a general withdrawal 
from responsibility on the part of both sexes and an over-all ef- 
feminizing of cultural values. In short, after a world war, women 

31. Blast No. 1 (London, John Lane, the Bodley Head, June 20, 1914), p. 94. 
The sympathetic Don Alvaro sees women as "blind as bats" (Revenge for Love, 
p. 9). 

The "Group-Rhythm" 57 

become "anti-he-man perverts" and men, finding their role as 
slaughterers of the species "unprofitable," react by turning to Sodom. 
This inversion establishes a "shaman." ^^ Resulting principally from 
a yielding of the disenchanted male to the female (concomitant 
with the male's guilty conscience at having kept woman subservient 
for so long), it acts as a receipt for irresponsibility. Lewis closes the 
argument with his customary indictment of commerical interest: 
big business is interested in the shamanization of culture since the 
machine age demands a neuter gender. The neuter (or Florabel, 
to pick up current American parlance), being principally emotional, 
is uncritical, and thus a natural consumer for the capitalist system. 
The "shaman" is a "sham-man" in all senses of the word. 

Lewis took this criticism characteristically far, claiming that, like 
the Negro, the contemporary shaman has established an hegemony 
of taste. The male invert has developed norms more feminine than 
any woman (''plus royaliste que le roi"), the Sodomite is leader 
of a disciplined host, and like "revolutionary" politics sexual per- 
version has set up an orthodoxy in our midst. The balding "Lesbian- 
Ape," characterized in Part vni of The Apes, with her hatred of 
men, fulfills criticism of this nature to be found in The Art of 
Being Ruled. ^^ 

"The 'homo' is the legitimate child of the 'suffragette,' " ^^ Lewis 
has written more than once, meaning that both share in the dis- 
integrating processes going on in our society and that both imply 
an "instinctive capitulation of the will on the part of the ruling 

32. In The Lion and the Fox, which contends that Shakespsare may have been 
a "shaman," Lewis defines this word as follows: "A shaman is a person following 
the calling of a magician or priest: and the word shamanization that I have em- 
ployed would refer to a shaman (the most typical of them) who had in addition 
transformed himself." He finds the same phenomenon after the second World War 
{Rude Assignment, p. 177). 

33. E.g. "the stupider, more excitable kind of woman will revenge herself on 
those things towards which she has always been in a position of veiled hostility" 
{Art of Being Ruled, p. 252). 

34. Rude Assignment, p. 177; similar statements can be found in Doom of 
Youth, pp. 207-11. 

58 Politics 

male sex." ^^ This is echoed almost word for word at the end of 
the first part of The Childermass when a member of the Action 
Frangaise enters, a Greek who clearly stands for masculinity since 
he is called Alectryon (meaning cock), and who opposes the liberal 
and Bergsonian Bailiff. " 'Homosexuality is a branch of the 
Feminist Revolution. The pathic is the political twin of the suf- 
fragette,' " Alectryon declares. He goes on to explain that the 
invert or "shaman," springing from the Puritan revolution, is today 
mobilizing his forces in the destruction of all that is best in the world. 

The group-rhythm, then, is for Lewis one of the most im- 
portant aspects of contemporary social decay. Negroes, youths, 
and women stand for emotion and intuition, for the overthrow of 
rational authority and the introduction of irresponsible anarchy. 
A body of French neoclassical criticism cites woman as romantic 
in this sense, but nowhere in France was the Negro so culturally 
suspect as in Paleface. And Lewis' impeachment of woman is 
more personal — which he frankly confesses ("I'm not the man that's 
sensitive to sex").^^ 

It is not hard to see a principal weakness in the neoclassical 
attack here. French scholars like Faguet, for instance, faced with 
the over-all indictment of the nineteenth century as romantic, had 
little difficulty in drawing attention to literary elements in the last 
century, such as the Parnassian movement, which were more clas- 
sical than romantic. Nor can the inclusive charge of woman as 
chaotically emotional allow for the Renaissance poetess, with her 
clarity of definition and adoration of the classics, let alone for a 
writer like Jane Austen. In the case of Karl Joel, who liked hard- 
and-fast periods, concluding generally with the turn of succeeding 
centuries, these weaknesses become glaring. 

Yet they show us that Lewis is here making a political, rather than 
cultural, attack in his criticism of the sex war and youth politics. 

35. Art of Being Ruled, p. 277; Lewis produces the same anecdote to illustrate 
this point in both Snooty, p. 26, and Rude Assignment, p. 174, 

36. Wyndham Lewis, One-Way Song (London, Faber and Faber, 1933), p. 34. 

The "Group-Rhythm'* 59 

It is, after all, the General, in the Walpurgisnacht scene of the first 
part of Faust, whom Goethe makes say: 

Denn bei dem Volk, wie bei den Frauen, 
Steht immerfort die Jugend oben an. 

Lewis is attacking a symptom of political instability and he admits, in 
one place, to believing that the extension of the franchise to women 
has dreadfully decreased the common political sagacity. Frequently 
called masculine himself in both painting and writing, Lewis has, 
however, shown considerable respect, and even affection, for the 
female form in his graphic art. One has only to consider the fine 
head of Madge Pulsford, of 1920, or the two full-length portraits 
of women reproduced at the end of Rude Assignment, to sense 
this. And with characteristic panache he has apologized to the 
ladies for his somewhat savage criticism of their sex: "I'm sorry 
if I've been too brutal girls!" ^^ 

37. Ibid., p. 33; this is a line Edith Sitwell takes up in her Aspects of Modern 

Chapter 3: The Democratic Conceit 

"It is the 'democratic' conceit that is at fault, is it not?" [Paleface, 
p. 73.] 

In APPLYING those general beliefs already examined to European 
society of our day Lewis' main criticism has been that our so-called 
democracies are — in the words of T. S. Eliot — "wormeaten with 
Liberalism." ^ Nineteenth-century liberalism vulgarized compas- 
sion and propagated the "democratic humbug," or "democratic 
handicap." ^ From 1926 until a few years ago, when he slightly 
modifies his view on this point, Lewis finds this kind of liberalism 
everywhere ending in totalitarian oppression. "Things are done, like- 
wise, in the name of liberty, that are, in truth, the promptings of 
oppression," he wrote in The Art of Being Ruled. In Light on a 
Dark Horse Roy Campbell echoes this today: "Far more people 
have been imprisoned for Liberty, degraded and humiliated for 

1. T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods, p. 12. 

Lewis uses the word "liberalism" in two senses. Liberalism of the nineteenth- 
century sort is used in a pejorative sense, but he tells us that "Western connotes 
Liberal" and that "the twentieth century Left Wingers repudiated the Western 
norm." What does he mean by "Western"? He answers: "the 'Western' of our title 
is given no more definition than what naturally inheres in the something that 
still characterizes our Western environment, as opposed to others distinct in 
tradition and outlook" {Time and Western Man, p. 9). Good liberalism, then, is 
"Western" in the true sense, traveling a "graeco-roman highway" lit by the 
beacons of "Darwin, Voltaire, Newton, Raphael, Dante, Epictetus, Aristotle, 
Sophocles, Plato, Pythagoras" (Rude Assignment, p. 192). 

2. "Disgust has been vulgarized" (Art of Being Ruled, p. 89; and see pp. 56, 
87-8, 146). 

The Democratic Conceit 61 

the sake of Equality, and tortured and murdered in the name of 
Fraternity during the last thirty years than in the previous thousand 
under less hypocritical forms of despotism." ^ 

This idea, that democracy and autocracy are close, may be hard 
for some of us to receive, but unless we allow it, we cannot under- 
stand much of Lewis' political criticism. For from the start Lewis 
could see no freedom in the kind of freedom of which the Euro- 
pean democrat today boasts. This can be seen in a talk he gave in 

The burden of this broadcast talk is in diametric opposition to 
the Areopagitica of Milton. Milton's belief, at that time, was that 
if truth and error were let loose in the same arena, truth would 
invariably prevail. By taking the reverse view, Lewis here sees free- 
dom of the press as simply freedom for "intellectual Jack-the- 
Rippers." ^ "Universal suffrage and universal education" have lost 
us our liberties today. Why so? Because common education pro- 
vides a mere stereotype (or "thing"), whose subsequent freedom 
to vote is "meaningless" — "So 'democratic' government is far more 
effective than subjugation by physical conquest." Until this cari- 
cature of freedom is banished, man cannot be free. "Free means 
just nothing," says Arghol in The Enemy of the Stars. "Democratic 
politics possess a magic property," we read through the reflections 
of a sympathetic character in Self Condemned, "they are able to 
turn a nobody into a somebody." 

Now this idea of democratic freedom being a mere technicality, 
and a cloak for totalitarianism (of England of the thirties Lewis 
writes "No Party-state could be more autocratic"), has been a 
principal political criticism of the neoclassical intelligentsia. Para- 
phrasing Lord Acton in a summary fashion in Democracy and 
Leadership, Babbitt writes: "Rousseau himself, as we have seen, 
would force people to be free. The attempt to combine freedom with 

3. Campbell, Light on a Dark Horse, p. 133. 

4. Wyndham Lewis, "V," Freedom [by various hands] (London, Allen and 
Unwin, 1936), p. 53. 

62 Politics 

equality led, and, according to Lord Acton, always will lead to 
terrorism." ^ 

Eliot is more circuitous: "By destroying traditional social habits 
of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness 
into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most 
foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging 
cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified 
. . . Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own 
negation: the artificial, mechanised or brutalised control which is 
a desperate remedy for its chaos." ^ 

Benda, less vociferously though (for me) more cogently, argues 
the same in La Grande Epreuve des democraties. By placing "liberty" 
above life and being, the modern democracy is for Benda both 
antihumanitarian and warlike.'^ Lewis goes further, calling the 
egalitarian political ideal criminal and misanthropic. Even in The 
Red Priest we find England called "a sort of Methodist's model of 
Russia." These critics allow little flexibility to the democratic belief. 
Eliot derides the "Equality of Opportunity dogma." Lewis calls 
this the revolutionary orthodoxy and to it I will return below. 

In particular, this charge of "dictatorial" democracy has been 
leveled by Lewis at a number of contemporary politicians. In 
America Franklin D. Roosevelt has borne the brunt of this attack. 
Since "it is always a doctrinaire libertarianism that ushers in des- 
potism," Roosevelt is often referred to as a "democratic autocrat." 
This "Club-man Caesar" (as Dos Passos also calls Roosevelt in 
The Grand Design) has developed an astute, anti-Jeff ersonian 
autocracy in the U.S.A., reminding Lewis of the politics of Frederick 
the Great, whom he calls, elsewhere, a degenerate crook and an 

5. Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, p. 127. 

6. Eliot, Christian Society, p. 13. 

7. Both Lewis and Benda quote Matthew 10.34 in support of this view. It is, 
however, one that contradicts the idea of nonresistance for which both men 
equally criticize contemporary democracy. Benda's La Grande Epreuve is largely 
concerned with assigning the defeat of France in the second World War to the 
pacifist nature of its democracy at the time. 

The Democratic Conceit 63 

"arrogant homosexual tyrant." The dislike of Roosevelt is balanced 
by admiration for the authoritarian temper of Hamilton. For Lewis, 
"poor Hamilton" had to suffer for believing what is neither wicked 
nor stupid, namely that "a democracy necessarily is a corrupt and 
disorderly type of government." ^ Or, as we read in The Enemy of 
the Stars, "To have Humanity inside you — is that to keep a doss- 
house malgre soi?" Similar criticisms can be found at the beginning 
of Pound's Jefferson and /or Mussolini, where we read that Woodrow 
Wilson was filled with "power lust." All the same, one can say 
that Lewis has never gone so far, in his criticism of America, as 
the Bernanos of 1931 who could fear the rise of "some little Yankee 
bootblack, half Anglo-Saxon, half Jew, a marmot with a rat's 
head, with Heaven knows what taint from a Negro ancestor hiding 
in his infuriated marrow." 

If it is specific politicians Lewis attacks in America, he has tended 
to criticize in English politics the parliamentary system. In 1929 
he called the English Houses of Parliament a "Talking House," ^ 
picking up this label for chapter 7 of Rotting Hill (entitled "The 
Talking Shop"). Now, as then, Lewis attacks the English Parlia- 
ment for being a "fake antique," for providing a spurious Tweedle- 
dum-Tweedledee charade in the name of difference of opinion. 
We find him most open in this criticism in an article published in 
Germany in 1937. This tells us that England is composed of a 
*'grosse sanfte Mitte" (the "Big Soft Centre" he ridiculed in The 
Mysterious Mr. Bull of the next year). The English Parliament, 
runs this argument, stages a sham fight. Ninety per cent of the 
Lower House never open their mouths, and so the Englishman's 
vaunted freedom to vote is a farce — though not such a bad thing, 
Lewis adds, since he has never set great store by universal franchise. 

8. America and Cosmic Man, p. 145. I should enter a caveat here. In one place 
it is Hamilton's "indifference to power" (p. 146) that makes him great for 
Lewis; in another, we read that "Lincoln was at least as much of a centralizer 
as was Hamilton; and they both had the same guiding principle — Union and 
Power" (p. 147). Nor does the last "power" refer to national strength. 

9. Diabolical Principle, p. 88. 

64 Politics 

The English love of moderation in politics is far from heroic, it is 
actually cowardly, the fear of any extreme. Baldwin is assailed 
as the product of this system. Guilty of an overthrow of royalty 
comparable to that accomplished by the Russian revolutionaries, 
Baldwin is depicted as the arch political hypocrite, totally cynical 
(and when Lewis wants to discredit Hitler, in his second Hitler 
book, he says he has the sincerity of Baldwin ).^^ As he fairly puts 
it in Time and Western Man: "My criticism of 'democracy,' again, 
was of 'democracy' as that is understood to-day; and it was based 
on the conviction that democracy is neither free, nor permits of 
freedom." ^^ 

Once again, Lewis sees himself as the Enemy, his idealism ex- 
pressed in opposition. For nineteenth-century liberalism, existing 
by this parliamentary humbug, has become the established English 
status quo. Accordingly it carries a complacent air — "every one 
to-day is somewhere on the Left." This point, that "a repressive 
'Leftwing' orthodoxy" persists in our democracies, is one he labors, 
and it constitutes his chief attack on American and European intel- 
lectuals, the class Hitler similarly stigmatized as the lost intelligentsia. 
Other neoclassicists, like Maurras,^^ have liked to make this same 
criticism of an orthodoxy of the left, as did "Agathon" if we sub- 
stitute left wing for "Agathon" 's "republicaine." ^^ 

10. Wyndham Lewis, "Insel und Weltreich," Europdische Revue, xiii Jahrgang, 
Heft 9 (Sept. 1937), 699-707. Wyndham Lewis, The Hitler Cult (London, Dent, 
1939), pp. 120-1. Baldwinian "Liberty" is also scathingly denounced in Count 
Your Dead, pp. 55-6. In 1952 Lewis juggles with the difference between "freedom" 
and "liberty" in taking issue with Sir Herbert Read, but in the body of his work 
he uses freedom in a normal way. When he crosses swords with Sir Herbert Read, 
he is allegedly championing true liberty against the "freedom" of Attlee England, 
a technical or legal freedom, or, as Lewis puts it, a freedom to be ill housed, 
ill clad, and regimented {Writer and Absolute, pp. 23-7). 

11. Time and Western Man, p. 137. 

12. Charles Maurras, Romantisme et revolution (Paris, Nouvelle Librairie 
Nationale, 1922), p. 83; this useful edition includes L'Avenir de V intelligence, 
Le Romantisme feminin, and other characteristically Maurrassian works. 

13. "Agathon," Les Jeunes Gens d'aujourd'hui (Paris, Librairie Plon, 1913), 
p. 110. 

The Democratic Conceit 65 

The "dead level of liberal-pink orthodoxy" (or "rebel 'fixation' ") 
Lewis finds in European democracies includes the rich; in The Art 
of Being Ruled he wrote, "It is only the wealthy, intelligent or 
educated who are revolutionary or combative." Gillian puts this 
point of view in The Revenge for Love: "It is we so called 'intel- 
lectuals' of the upper-classes, who are the only real Communists 
. . . When a workman becomes a Communist he only does so 
for what he can get! ... he brings with him all his working-class 
cynicism, all his underdog cowardice and disbelief in everything 
and everybody." ^^ 

In Broken Record Roy Campbell says the same. In this work, 
which even sees Springbok rugby being "bolshevized," we read of 
liberal ideas that "For the last two hundred years reformers and 
agitators have been pumping workmen with these ideas until there 
are no more workmen left, only a crowd of self-righteous martyrs 
with the hallucination that everybody is under some obligation to 
them. Extremely difficult and over-precious poets write propaganda 
for these martyrs whose only ambition and daydream is to become 
'dirty little bourgeois' themselves." ^^ 

If, then, Lewis sincerely believed that socialism in our society 
has become obligatory, he is once again behaving like a good neo- 
classicist in endeavoring to correct a balance by championing what 
he calls the "unradical" position of "poor old 'Reaction.' " Several 
characters in his work, like Laming of Rotting Hill, are seen as 
occupying a near-revolutionary position by being on the political 
right. The revolutionary orthodoxy of "unprogressive 'progres- 
siveness' " is what he is satirizing in the form of the One-Ways of 
One-Way Song. Stanza 19 of the "One- Way Song" Canto itself 
characterizes the "Fronts" as unreflecting units, standardized revo- 
lutionaries, puppet-like busybodies playing at social change, dolts 

14. Revenge for Love, p. 225. In 1938 Lewis sees the British Labour party as 
callously indifferent to the poor. Wyndham Lewis, The Mysterious Mr. Bull 
(London, Robert Hale, 1938), p. 105. 

15. Campbell, Broken Record, p. 44. 

66 Politics 

who "strut and pant in insect packs." "How we One-Ways stink / 
Of progress!" we read and, when Lewis describes the song of the 
"Fronts" as "the lament of Not-to-be," he means that such people 
are totally unaware, do not exist. This repressive orthodoxy of 
opinion has been particularly the case in literature (he does not 
attack painters in this way) : "From Shelley to Shaw in England 
it has been rather the rule than the exception for a writer to be a 
destructive political revolutionary idealist." ^^ 

Here Lewis, closely concerned, becomes intemperate. It is true 
that Benda denounces the contemporary clerc for utilitarianism. And 
we may find in Conrad the idea that the average political revolu- 
tionary is simply "a brazen cheat." ^'^ But for Lewis any writer on 
the political left has adopted the position solely out of self-interest, 
in order to gain materially from the revolutionary orthodoxy. This 
criticism is summarized when he looks back on his career in 1950: 
"ours has been in the West a generation of hypocrites ... a 
generation that has shown less care for men in the mass than any 
for a great many centuries, combining this demonstrable indiffer- 
ence to the welfare of the generality with never-ceasing hosannas 
to the Common Man: a generation of power-addicts who put on 
a red tie with a smirk, climb upon the back of the Working Class 
and propose to ride it to a new type of double-faced dominion." ^® 
Campbell also, in Light on a Dark Horse, attributes all socialist 
instincts to "base sham, and hypocritical self-seeking," but Lewis 
seems to have felt bitterly about this as far as it concerns the literary 
profession: "the same petty calculation," he writes in 1950, "that 
led the average intellectual to hoist himself on to the marxist band- 
wagon now prompts him discreetly to drop off it." 

This bias was demonstrated in one of the most acrimonious at- 

16. Diabolical Principle, p. 140. 

17. Joseph Conrad, Author's Note, The Secret Agent (New York, Doubleday, 
Page, 1923), p. ix. 

18. Rude Assignment, p. 142; cf. "Most socialist doctrine in the case of the 
older men is rooted in christian teaching: with the young it is rooted in power 
impulses" (p. 138). 

The Democratic Conceit 67 

tacks Lewis has made on any writer, namely his chapter on George 
Orwell in The Writer and the Absolute, Orwell is represented here 
as cynical and self-seeking. Having "succumbed to the fashionable 
pink rash" at Eton, Orwell "obtained so much kudos" out of social- 
ism that he continued to indulge in it as "Slumming." He went to 
the Spanish Civil War "for no very serious reason," merely taking 
up socialist attitudes "to keep step with everybody else." Orwell 
got financial advantage out of his political position, just as Lawrence 
did out of being the son of a coal miner. Two points should be 
taken into account here; first, Orwell was undoubtedly popular 
for what he had to say, rather than for the way he said it. (I am 
aware that some critics, like V. S. Pritchett, claim a "clear, direct" 
style for Orwell, but the same could be claimed for the work-a-day 
journalist.) Lewis knows that he has been unpopular for what he 
had to say, to the neglect of literary proficiency superior to Orwell's, 
to understate the case. Secondly, Lewis wrote his attack after 
Orwell had foolishly referred to him in Partisan Review as "a 
Communist or at least a strong sympathiser." ^^ It was not for 
nothing that Lewis likened himself to Voltaire's malign animal 
who, when bitten, is so impolite as to bite back. 

The revolutionary orthodoxy comes in for satire in The Re- 
venge for Love, the premise of which is largely that revolutionary 
politics is a game. But it is chiefly in Lewis' criticism that we find 
the idea that this orthodoxy derives from another, namely what he 
calls "the evangelical heresy." For Lewis, as I shall elaborate 
below, it is the political consequences of the "well-thumbed Genevan 
Bible" that we are suffering today: "The moralist politics of Prot- 
estant Christianity was violently anti-authoritarian, in contrast with 
the Catholic philosophy." Yet the Jew also is "the Leader of the 
Liberal world." -^ For the French antiromanticists these origins had 

19. George Orwell, "London Letter," Partisan Review, 13, No. 3 (Summer 
1946), 323. Cf. Francis Fytton, "Laughter and Letters: Dominic Bevan Wyndham 
Lewis," The Catholic World, 181, No. 1,086 (Sept. 1955), 425: our Lewis seen as 
"perpetually . . . flirting" with communism. 

20. Count Your Dead, p. 268. 

68 Politics 

the added advantage of making modern socialism un-French. Maur- 
ras, who Hke Toussenel traced Protestantism to the Jews, was espe- 
cially strong on this point, and even the relatively cool Benda 
finds contemporary egalitarian politics rooted in Anglo-Saxon Prot- 
estantism (though Benda grew critical of both Maurras and Ca- 
tholicism). In passing, it is surely a tribute to Jacques Maritain 
that he could, though a strong Catholic, see the evangelical basis 
of modern democracy as good, on the simple grounds that it is 
Christian. Europe's problem, Maritain wrote in 1943, was to 
recover Christianity, and to this democracy was linked, so that 
the general ideal of human dignity was fundamentally assisted by 
"I'inspiration evangelique." ^^ 

But to most antiromanticists seventeenth-century Puritanism, and 
the Sermon on the Mount, are mandates to irresponsibility. Christ, 
by inviting the last to be first, Lewis says, resembled Nietzsche 
asking everyone to become an aristocrat. Thus Jesus vulgarized 
true freedom, which is the privilege of the few. Contemporary 
socialism, continuing nineteenth-century liberalism, is a perpetua- 
tion of Bible Christianity. 2 2 Being emotional and intuitive, rather 
than intellectual and rational, this theological politics leads to 
hatred, intolerance, and egotism. This criticism, made by Lewis 
in 1926, is not changed in 1950. In fact, a year later. Rotting Hill 
turns out to be a satire of State socialism derived from "bible- 
religion." There are several places in this work where Lewis shows 
that socialism of what he calls the "hard-boiled" type stems from 
Jesus. ^^ Father Card of The Red Priest further implements this 

For de Maistre, master of French antiromantic criticism, de- 
mocracy was an awful visitation from God. In the face of "the 
liberal opera-bouffe" of modern democracy, confronted with "the 

21. Jacques Maritain, Christianisme et democratie (New York, Editions de la 
Maison Fran?aise, 1943), pp. 33-67. 

22. Art of Being Ruled, p. 326; cf. "In a democracy the business of the State is 
conducted upon an oily pulpit note" (Snooty, p. 6). 

23. Rotting Hill, pp. ix, 36, 48, 51, 52, 226. 

The Democratic Conceit 69 

european egalitarian masquerade" where "Liberty is manufactured 
with words," drenched in the "greasy incense to Mr. Everyman" 
and deafened by the "chorus of parrots" of the revolutionary or- 
thodoxy, what alternative has Lewis held out for our society? The 
answer, in general terms, is an organized despotism with a caste 
system based on the intelligence.^^ 

In 1926 Lewis wrote: "Instead of the vast organization to ex- 
ploit the weaknesses of the Many, should we not possess one for 
the exploitation of the intelligence of the Few?" In 1948 he put 
the same view: "Were I to return to this earth five centuries hence, 
and discover a country the size of Great Britain ruled by a 'Premier' 
and half a dozen secretaries, I should know that the 'free society' 
so often said to be there was at last in actual being." ^^ At the 
start of his critical career Lewis could see only two forces con- 
fronting the inhibiting hypocrisy of the democracies. These two 
systems of government, Fascist and Communist, were in charge 
of political initiative, Lewis saw, and were to be admired for their 
organizing abilities. ^^ Possibly here was a chance that the "person" 
could be freed. "The disciplined fascist party in Italy can be taken 
as representing the new and healthy type of 'freedom,' " ^^ he wrote 
in 1926. The Soviet also had taken "the wisest and sanest step 
... in curtailing the impossible freedom of art." ^^ Both re- 
gimes, for admitting "that there must be a master," ^^ were not only 
commendable but compassionate. Let us now follow in the paths 
to which Lewis was led by this early analysis. 

24. Art of Being Ruled, pp. 387 ff. 

25. America and Cosmic Man, p. 160. 

26. Art of Being Ruled, p. 79. 

27. Ibid., p. 152. 

28. Ibid., p. 121. 

29. Ibid., p. 95. 

Chapter 4: A Compromise with the Herd 

"Do not play with political notions, aristocratisms or the reverse, for 
that is a compromise with the herd." [The Ideal Giant, p. 33.] 

Inapril 1929 T. S. Eliot grouped Wyndham Lewis with a num- 
ber of writers who, in his opinion, "incHne in the direction of some 
kind of fascism." ^ In this year Lewis described his own politics 
as "partly communist and partly fascist, with a distinct streak of 
monarchism in my marxism, but at bottom anarchist with a healthy 
passion for order." ^ When we are later told by him that "At no 
time, however, have I been in the least danger of falling in love 
with a political Star, or becoming excited about a Party," we 
realize that we are facing a certain ambiguity of statement, the 
same kind of confession of faith made by Eliot when he wrote that 
he was "royahst" in contemporary England.^ 

It would be safe, however, to dismiss Orwell's notion that Lewis 
has been in sympathy with Russian communism. It is true that in 
The Art of Being Ruled we find him writing, "in the abstract I 
believe the sovietic system to be the best," ^ but in the same book 
we read also, "I am not a communist; if anything, I favour some 
form of fascism rather than communism." ^ Moreover, The Art 
of Being Ruled pours scorn on Marx and pictures the Marxist 
politician as totally cynical and ruled by lust for power. Adverse 

1. T. S. EHot, "Commentary," The Criterion, 8, No. 32 (April 1929), p. 378. 

2. Diabolical Principle, p. 126. 

3. T. S. Eliot, For Launcelot Andrew es (Garden City, Doubleday, Doran, 
1929), p. vii. 

4. Art of Being Ruled, p. 381. 

5. Ibid., p. 28. 

A Compromise with the Herd 71 

references to communism, both in theory and practice, follow this 
book, and are maintained to date. In Paleface the Communist doc- 
trine is "proletarian imperialism," considered inhumanity, with the 
Russian leaders "open professors of intrigue and herd-hypnotism"; 
in The Doom of Youth it is "the most fanatical anti-individualist 
creed that has ever seen the light." No, Lewis can fairly write in 
his recent America and Cosmic Man that "Communist methods 
outrage me, and always have." What is responsible for that sym- 
pathy for communism that does exist in The Art of Being Ruled 
is its affinity with fascism; both are political theories with points 
of strength for Lewis. Thus, "An extreme version of leninist politics 
... is fascismo," we read here, and again, 'Tascismo is merely 
a spectacular marinettian flourish put onto the tail, or, if you like, 
the head of marxism." Benda also, in La Trahison, finds com- 
munism and fascism close and ascribes both to a common source 
(in his case, Sorel). We know that Sorel praised Lenin and was 
himself praised by Mussolini. 

But nowhere is it more difficult in Lewis' work to sort out a con- 
sistent attitude than on this point. Even the most sympathetic 
recording of his ideas must admit recurrent contradictions; so we 
read, in the second part of Hitler, that fascism is true socialism. 
We know that socialism, for him, derives from seventeenth-century 
Bible-religion and from Jewry (Marx). But we remember being 
told in The Art of Being Ruled that Marx was really in support of 
capitalism, or of "a great bureaucratic hegemony, which would 
result in a world state on capitalist lines, but theoretically purged 
of capitalist oppression." This leads us to the idea Lewis often 
expresses, that Marx's function in society was similar to a sort of 
Marx Brothers hoax (recently, Stephen Spender has seen Auden, 
in The Dance of Death, making "Karl Marx look like one of the 
Marx Brothers").^ It is for this reason Lewis likens Hardcaster, 
of The Revenge for Love, to Groucho Marx in Rude Assignment. 

6. Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 17; Jews, p. 74. Stephen Spender, The 
Creative Element (London, Hamish Hamilton, 1953), p. 150. 

72 Politics 

Then we have further complications when, within a single book, 
he equates both communism and fascism, and communism and 
socialism."^ Confusion is worse confounded when we read elsewhere 
that the method of seizure of power by "catastrophe" and bloody 
violence is that of the capitalist rather than of the Fascist,^ and in 
another place that fascism is defined by George Washington, viz. 
political by means of military despotism.^ Faced with these equivoca- 
tions, we can only think of the instruction given the Herdsman 
at the start of Lewis' career: "Contradict yourself, in order to live. 
You must remain broken up." ^^ 

Yet even as one arrays these apparent contradictions it can be 
seen that, deviously, they can be traced to a coherent political 
attitude. In Lewis opposites reconcile themselves. He was the first 
English intellectual to see the similarity between Russian com- 
munism and fascism, though his view of the latter was elastic. Nor 
is the idea that Marx (a Jew) was out to perpetuate capital so 
violently unusual, for it was of course a tenet of Nazi thought 

Chapter 12 of Part xi of The Art of Being Ruled is entitled 
"Fascism as an Alternative" and is the secret of Lewis' interest in 
Fascist politics. For here Lewis believed that with the dictator in 
absolute command the clerc would be freed; political thinking would 
be lifted from his shoulders and his energies liberated for purely 
aesthetic duties. But even as one contends that this idea was re- 
sponsible for the more rabid of Lewis' political books of the thirties, 

7. Wyndham Lewis, Anglosaxony: A League That Works (Toronto, Ryerson 
Press, 1941), pp. 1-2,23. 

8. Art of Being Ruled, p. 50. 

9. America and Cosmic Man, p. 134. 

10. Ideal Giant, p. 36. The general reader, unacquainted with Lewis' basic 
beliefs, is likely to find contradiction after apparent contradiction in his 
work. Even when one knows his beliefs, some of these remain insoluble; cf. 
"Functional philosophies do not interest me a great deal" (Rude Assignment, p. 
91) and "My writings possess this unity because they are functional" (p. 141). 

11. Hitler, p. 175, and Count Your Dead, p. 230, are two typical examples of 
this belief. In the latter case we find Marx also behind "Americanism." 

A Compromise with the Herd 73 

one is faced with another contradiction, for in 1935 he called State 
patronage of the artist, of the kind he had seemed to welcome in 
The Art of Being Ruled, "more deadly than puritanism." ^^ Still, 
it was this idea, I think — together with the theory he advanced in 
1 929 that if you could persuade one class of people they were better 
than another there was a chance they would act in conformity with 
this behef — that seems to have led him to write in 1926, "for 
anglo-saxon countries as they are constituted to-day some modified 
form of fascism would probably be the best." ^^ 

Meeting this remark in 1926 one would naturally imagine that 
Lewis would view Italian fascism with sympathy. Such is not the 
case. Mussolini is consistently ridiculed, in 1927, 1929, and 1932; 
the charge that he has an "actor-mind" in Time and Western Man 
is typical of Lewis' feeling for "the Italian potentate in the political 
Dime Novel of Modern Rome," as the Duce is called in The Apes 
of God. Actually, in his satire, Lewis often shows himself ready 
to poke fun at stupid traits by no means ridiculed in his criticism; 
it is true that the Fascist Starr-Smith of The Apes is almost the 
only man of good will in the work, but Starr-Smith is frequently 
found "broadcasting" in an obvious skit of Fascist oratory, while in 
The Childermass the Followers of Hyperides give what may be 
intended as a parody of similar rhetoric. ^^ In the same way Eliot 
is thought to have included in The Rock a satire of Mosley, whom 
he praised in The Criterion. However it is certain that Lewis never 
saw the possibility of an intellectual elite — and the reader will have 
gathered by now that this is what Lewis is after in politics — in 
Mussolini's Italy, as did Pound. ^^ There is only one place where 

12. Wyndham Lewis, "Art and Patronage (i)," The B.B.C. Annual (London, 
British Broadcasting Corporation, 1935), p. 187. This is a severe criticism, when 
one knows what Puritanism means to Lewis. The whole of this article reverses 
ch. 12 of Pt. XI of The Art of Being Ruled. 

13. Art of Being Ruled, p. 381. 

14. Childermass, pp. 253-4. 

15. I refer to ch. 3 of Pt. v of Pound's ABC of Economics, entitled "Dictator- 
ship as a Sign of Intelligence." 

74 Politics 

Lewis shows any enthusiasm for Mussolini. In two articles in The 
Calendar of Modern Letters in 1926 he finds Great Britain "badly 
in need of a ruling class," suggests that "a Fascist nobility supply 
the long-felt British need," and urges an alliance between France, 
Italy, and the British Empire, an alliance which should find its 
rulers in Rome. 

Why did Lewis have reasonably little use for Mussolini, when 
we know he wrote with enthusiasm of Hitler? Two answers are pos- 
sible. In one place he differentiates Mussolini from Hitler by calUng 
the Duce more Communist. Second, Lewis had seen Italian fascism 
express itself (expose itself, for him) on the level of art, in the Futur- 
ism of Marinetti. Lewis constantly criticizes Italian fascism as politi- 
cal Futurism (an early criticism repeated by Pound and Roy Camp- 
bell) and charges both Marinetti and Mussolini with being apostles 
of "action." He was eventually to see Hitler in the same light, of 
course, but the difference remains that Italian fascism was ushered 
in with an artistic movement, in which Lewis could recognize repre- 
hensible traits, in a way that German fascism was not. Moreover, 
Mussolini's long article "Fascismo" for the Enciclopedia italiana, 
with its stress on youth ("Giovinezza, impeto, fede"), openly ad- 
vocated principles with which Lewis would disagree. The explana- 
tion, however, is not entirely satisfactory, for it was in 1925, after 
Hitler's detention following the November 1923 Putsch, that the 
German parallel of this document, Mein Kampf, appeared, again 
filled with principles with which Lewis might be thought to dis- 
agree. Finally, as far as the British Fascist leader was concerned, 
Lewis showed little explicit sympathy. He drew a head of Mosley 
in the thirties but he did not invariably draw heads of those he 
admired (Ronald Firbank). It is true that in an article published in 
Germany in September 1937 he saw Mosley possessing "grosse 
politische Einsicht und Fuhrereigenschaften," ^^ but it cannot be 
said that he ever praised Mosley in the way T. S. Eliot did in his 
"Commentary" to The Criterion for April 1931. 

16. "Insel und Weltreich," p. 701. 

A Compromise with the Herd 75 

On November 29, 1930, Lewis writes to A. J. A. Symons from 
Berlin. As a result of this visit he published a series of articles 
dealing with Hitler and Hitlerism in Time and Tide early the next 
year. These he reprinted in Hitler, which Geoffrey Stone correctly 
calls one of the few "positive" political pamphlets by Lewis. Of 
course Lewis himself claims that he is writing this work as an "ex- 
ponent," not as an "advocate," of Hitlerism. In Blasting and 
Bombay diering of 1937 he reminds us of this impartiality again; 
the book was simply a series of impressions of Germany given "as 
a spectator, not as a partisan." In the work itself, however, he con- 
fesses in one place to a "sympathy" ^^ for the Nazi regime of the 
time, and such is what we most undoubtedly find. 

Neither Junker nor Marxist, Hitler is presented here as one of 
the little men of mankind, a total expression of Germany, and a "man 
of peace" who, if left to himself, would be unlikely either to want 
to expand or to start a war. He has, however, not been left alone 
and therefore has been compelled to arm his party in self-defense. 
Here we meet a contradiction. Having furnished the Nazi stereotype 
of a corrupt Berlin — the infamous Eldorado nightclub figures prom- 
inently in this "scientific" picture of Berlin — Lewis alleges that the 
Nazis were "driven to arm" against Marxist gang terrorism. Yet he 
also says that "Any Nationalsocialist carrying firearms is expelled 
from the party," and claims that Hitler's total armament consisted 
of "mere knuckles not knuckledusters." ^^ 

In Hitler the Jewish question in Germany is called a "racial 
red-herring," and the English reader assured that Hitler would grow 
more tolerant of the Jews in time.^^ As this raises a passionate con- 
troversy, and since the charge of anti-Semitism has been laid lately 
at Lewis' door with considerable acerbity by a writer in Com- 
mentary, perhaps I should digress to consider it. In the first place 

17. Hitler, p. 143. 

18. Cf. ibid., pp. 18, 65 with pp. 47, 54, and with Blasting and Bombardiering, 
p. 235. 

19. Hitler, pp. 35-43, 48. 


76 Politics 

it is presumably unsound to call a writer anti-Semitic on the basis 
of his creative work. T. S. Eliot is author of the famous lines, 

The rats are underneath the piles. 
The jew is underneath the lot. 

The Jew at the start of Gerontion (coupled with the sick archetype 
of potency) may seem as unpleasant as Bleistein, but it would of 
course be unwise to adduce a racial attitude from these character- 
izations. Similarly, those Jews that do occur in Lewis' satire usually 
possess qualities he does not admire; one thinks of the unpleasant 
art critic (who has anglicized his name from Reuben Wallach) or 
of Isaac Wohl, one of the principal forgers, in The Revenge for 
Love. In The Apes we find Archie Margolin described as a "militant 
slum-Jew" or "Sham Yid" with a "mass-production grin." But I 
do not intend to draw conclusions from these. In 1939 Lewis pub- 
lished The Jews, Are They Human? (following the successful The 
English, Are They Human?) which is a direct plea for the Jewish 
race. It attacks anti-Semitism, pays tribute to Jewish ability, and 
criticizes current German racial theories. One can, more or less 
kindly, speculate as to its sincerity, but it must be considered, and 
considered as an apologetic writing on behalf of the Jews, before 
calling Lewis anti-Semitic. 

At the same time as acknowledging that Lewis often rebukes 
anti-Semitism, one can allow that he dislikes qualities considered 
as Jewish (to be found even in the late, guarded Self Condemned, 
where we read of "a fat Jewish-looking gentleman, with a lisp, a 
large cigar . . . ," etc., etc.). In The Red Priest a character is 
afraid lest Father Card lose his money and so "become the victim 
of the Jews." Yet if so many of his ideological opponents are Jewish 
(Bergson, Einstein, Marx, Gertrude Stein, and Joyce, who cele- 
brated a Jew), his philosophic master, Benda, was a Czech of 
Jewish ancestry. Nor can it be said that Lewis, Hke Lasserre, ever 
attacked Bergson for his race (Bergson was more than once threat- 
ened with execution by the French neoclassicists in the press). No, 

A Compromise with the Herd 11 

Lewis has often been careful not to offend on this delicate matter. 
The following passage in square brackets was deleted in the second 
edition of Tarr: "Rembrandt paints decrepit old Jews [, the most 
decayed specimens of the lowest race on earth that is]. Shakespeare 
deals in human tubs of grease." ^^ In the margin of the manuscript 
for an article on art to go into The Dial in 1921, he marks a passage 
on the emotional nature of the Jew as not to be included. ^^ 

In fact, this criticism, that the Jewish psychology is feminine 
and close to that of the child, does escape Lewis in The Doom of 
Youth and is a leading neoclassical attack. Again, in an article in 
The New Statesman in 1924, he stages an imaginary conversation 
with a Jew, finding the Semite hostile to true individuality and char- 
acterized by "an almost morbid sociabiHty, clinging gregariousness, 
and satisfaction in crowds." In other words, he here criticizes the 
Jew for indulging in a group-rhythm. It is the Jewish gregarious- 
ness Lewis dislikes in Paleface (a work praised by Eliot in After 
Strange Gods), repeating the criticism in 1937: "Jewish success 
is a triumph of organization, the subordination of the individual 
to the race." This aptitude for organization leads, like all group- 
rhythms, to war. Hence we find the neoclassicist attack on the 
Jews as "militant." Cantleman finds the first World War partly 
due to "the quarrels of jews." Similarly Gaudier-Brzeska, whose 
notebooks seem to have been definitely anti-Semitic, wrote in Blast 
No, 1: "The SEMITIC VORTEX was the lust of war." ^2 

This attack, which refuses to allow for the fact that the Jewish 
race has had to struggle for its very existence in twentieth-century 
Europe, seems wild at first glance — especially as it was being made 
at a moment when (as Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitar- 
ianism or Jules Isaac's more recent Genesis of Antisemitism shows) 

20. Tarr (Egoist), p. 9; Tarr (Chatto), p. 9. 

21. Lockwood Memorial Library, University of Buffalo. Is it deliberately that, 
when quoting a passage concerning world capitalism from the Volkische Beobach- 
ter, Lewis mistranslates the Nazi epithet for it, "wucherischen," as "accursed"? 
{Hitler, p. 175.) 

22. Blast No. 1. p. 156. 

78 Politics 

the call of Maurrasians for Jews to be circumcised "up to the neck" 
was being literally implemented. But one comes across it repeatedly. 
Even the comparatively temperate Benda in La Trahison indicts 
Jewish nationalism and facility for organization ("nationalisme 
juif), as a prime political passion of the most dangerous sort. But 
in Belphegor he takes up the attack on the Jews as agents of 
Romance, made by so many French neoclassicists, and acquits them 
of this charge.^^ Lewis is closer to Benda and Maritain ^* on this 
vexed question than to the other antiromanticists mentioned. He 
has never gone as far, for example, as to find, with T. S. Eliot, "any 
large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable." ^^ This remark, 
incidentally, eluded Eliot's usual vigilance in After Strange Gods, 
a work to which Pound has recently referred as follows: 

Eliot, in this book, has not come through uncontaminated 
by the Jewish poison. 

Until a man purges himself of this poison he will never 
achieve understanding.^^ 

Nor can comparison be made between Lewis' attitude to the Jews 
and that of Charles Maurras. Maurras, in fact, here makes a neat 
association of many elements disliked by the neoclassicist. Both 
de Maistre and Comte, we know, had seen Protestantism and revo- 

23. Benda, Belphegor, p. 155. 

24. Jacques Maritain also wrote against anti-Semitism at about the same time 
as Lewis. Maritain's "L'Impossible Antisemitisme" appeared in Les Juifs in 1937, 
and this essay was expanded in a lecture given by Maritain in Paris on February 
5, 1938, at the Theatre des Ambassadeurs. This was collected into a book trans- 
lated into Enghsh as Antisemitism (London, Geoffrey Bles, 1939); this appears to 
be substantially the same volume as A Christian Looks at the Jewish Question 
(London, Longmans, Green, 1939). Like Lewis, Maritain obviously detests the 
violence being meted out to the Jews at this time. More recently he has found 
Jewry part of the whole religious family which it is essential for Europe to try 
to preserve (Maritain, Christianisme et democratie, p. 46). 

25. Eliot, After Strange Gods, p. 20. Cf. Morris Freedman, "The Meaning of 
T. S. Eliot's Jew," The South Atlantic Quarterly, 55, No. 2 (April 1956), 198- 

26. Ezra Pound, A Visiting Card (London, Peter Russell, 1952), p. 22. 

A Compromise with the Herd 79 

lution as allied, a fairly common attitude in such minds. But 
Maurras goes one step further; not only are the Jews behind 
democracy, Jerusalem being the seat of revolution, but the Jews 
are behind Protestantism also: "Le protestant procede absolument 
du Juif." 2^ In actual fact, there is nothing very original in this 
criticism, as those familiar with attacks on Milton's Zionism must 
be aware. Maurras probably pulled it out of Toussenel: "Qui dit 
Juif, dit protestant, sachez-le," exhorted Toussenel at the start of 
his huge indictment of the Jews.^^ Yet it is surprising to find Benda 
referring to this association and tending to agree with it.^^ Maurras 
has the same idea that we shall find in Lewis of the Semitic origins 
of contemporary Russian leaders, but his dislike of "ce messianisme 
de Juifs charnels, porte au paroxysme par sa demence egalitaire" 
is itself a paroxysm Lewis never allowed himself. In the French 
neoclassicist indeed we meet that habit of mind of blanketing every- 
thing disliked under an absolute. Just as the Communist calls any 
ideological dissimilarity "bourgeois," so the Oriental mind with 
these thinkers tends to be monotonously Semitic. The obviously 
suspect Plato, for instance, is charged by Jules Lemaitre, in one 

27. Maurras, Romantisme et revolution, p. 275. I have also used a convenient 
digest of his political views Maurras made in 1937 — Charles Maurras, Mes idees 
politiques (Paris, Librairie Artheme Fayard, 1937) — where, on pp. 193-4, there 
is a characteristic syllogism. For Maurras suggests that the masses are all 
demagogues, and then that the Jews are all demagogues. Presumably, then, for 
this "thinker," the masses are all Jews. This is further complicated when we read 
Maurras claiming that the Dreyfus agitation was "subventionnee" by England. 
Charles Maurras, Kiel et Tanger (Paris, Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, 1915), p. 
121; this work was first published in 1910. 

28. Alphonse Toussenel, Les Juifs, rois de I'epoque: histoire de la feodalite 
financiere (Paris, Gabriel de Gonet, 1847), tome premier, p. iv. Louis Thomas* 
recent study — Alphonse Toussenel, socialiste national antisemite (Paris, Mercure 
de France, 1941) — contains at p. 95 the following proud assessment of Toussenel 
from occupied France: "Le malheur est que sa le?on fut inentendue des Frangais 
jusqu'au jour oil les Juifs, poussant leur audace a I'extreme et jouant le tout pour 
le tout, risquerent, en 1939, I'existence de la France en la lan?ant ignominieuse- 
ment, a I'aveugle, dans la Croisade pour les Juifs. Dorenavant, Toussenel sera 
une de nos Bibles." 

29. Benda, ^preuve, p. 72. 

80 Politics 

of his interminable volumes on Les Contemporains, with being 
steeped in the Semitic Orient and inimical to truly "Aryan" Hellen- 
ism; Seilliere, though far more resigned on this point, also finds 
Plato contaminated by the Jewish Orient in Le Romantisme . But 
the ideal of racial purity of this sort has not been wholly European 
in our century. The "meteques" (resident aliens) Maurras disliked 
so are the same "degenerate breeds" whose multiplication in Amer- 
ica Babbitt dreaded, and who prompted him to write: "Circum- 
stances may arise when we may esteem ourselves fortunate if we 
get the American equivalent of a Mussolini; he may be needed to 
save us from the American equivalent of a Lenin." ^^ 

Yet if we conclude that Lewis has been more careful than these 
intransigeants, we must equally remember that he has played with 
the paradoxical and perverse idea that, like the Negro, the Jew 
is in power, his supposed racial inferiority a myth, and that in 
reality the Aryan is the victim of intolerance in our society. Even 
as late as 1937 he makes reasonably light of the Fascist persecu- 
tion of the Jews.^^ To be really generous, perhaps we can say that 
this was due to a sincere belief (expressed in Hitler) that racial 
bias breaks down class bias. Class feeling is a more restrictive 
group-rhythm than race feeling; he retains this idea in The Hitler 
Cult: "The more racial feeling, the less class feeling." This is the 
only way we can account for his acceptance of the Nazi doctrine of 
Blutsgefiihl in 1931, for it is a doctrine one might think extremely 
distasteful to him, and indeed it is so, when he comes to criticize 
Hitler adversely in The Hitler Cult. Roy Campbell, of course, is 
more open, writing in Broken Record of 1934, "I fail to see how 
a man like Hitler makes any ^mistake' in expelling a race that is 
intellectually subversive." In Hitler, too, the racial homogeneity 
preached by the Nazis is a counter to American "negro-worship" 
and an essentially healthy belief in "the necessity of a Central, 
Western unified culture, and the necessity of an acuter and more 

30. Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, p. 312. 

31. Count Your Dead, pp. 339-42. 

A Compromise with the Herd 81 

jingo, if you like, race-consciousness on the part of all White Western 
Peoples." Hitler's Aryanism is not only desirable in its context, 
but should be extended. It is "the only sane and realistic policy 
in the midst of a disintegrating world." Hitler may well be an- 
nouncing another Golden Age.^^ 

Soon after the publication of this book derogatory references 
to Hitler may be traced in Lewis' writings; yet his interest in Hitler 
and Fascist politics continues strongly sympathetic through 1936 
and 1937. The only interpretation I put on this is that Lewis was 
quickly aware of the damage Hitler did him in literary circles. In 
One-Way Song, of 1933, he refers to how the book has hurt his 
reputation, and makes the claim, to be repeated frequently, that 
Hitler (v/hich was translated into German in 1932) was disliked 
in Germany. This may have been so, but in 1936 the British Fascist 
Quarterly could list Hitler as "still about the best study of the man 
and the movement." ^^ And it was in this year that Lewis published 
Left Wings over Europe, where we read, unequivocally: "it is an 
undeniable fact that democracy is being practised in Germany at 
present, with surprising success. It was a pure parliamentary de- 
mocracy that voted in — as nearly by democratic vote as it is 
humanly possible to get — and has periodically confirmed in power, 
the great patriot who is now 'Dictator' of the German Democracy." ^* 

This "impartial" book consists of a defense of German and Italian 
politics of the time, an attack on the League of Nations, a record 
of Baldwinian "hypocrisy," an analysis of representative govern- 
ment as occult, usurious, and despotic, and of British democracy 
as an egregious sham. It concludes with a pretense of German 

32. Hitler, pp. 184-9. In fairness, it should be added that even in this work 
Lewis shows some signs of dissatisfaction with Hitler's boast of the monopoly of 
greatness of Aryan culture. But by and large he does not seriously challenge it, 
and even uses the theory of diffusion of culture (which he had come across as a 
Criterion reviewer) to back the possibility of such a monopoly. In 1939, however, 
one of the many reasons for condemning Hitler is his denial of the genius of the 
Jews {Hitler, p. 97). 

33. "Select Bibhography," The Fascist Quarterly, 2, No. 3 (July 1936), 583. 

34. Left Wings, p. 298. 

82 Politics 

friendship for England. In short, it is a fully committed apology for 

In a long defense of Fascist foreign policy, Lewis dismisses the 
idea of the "German menace" and pleads that Germany be allowed 
to rearm, a view he directly contradicts when writing from Toronto 
in 1942.^^ In the same way the Abyssinian war was a "war of 
liberation," a course thrust upon Mussolini by Great Britain. ^^ 
Germany is being encircled, Lewis claims; he defends Hitler's as- 
sumption of absolute power by judicious quotation of John Stuart 
Mill, instances the high degree of freedom within the Fascist states, 
and concludes with a diatribe against the Soviet leaders, "an in- 
describable mafia" ending nineteenth-century liberalism in a blood 
bath. Stalin is an "ex-bank robber" and Peter Fleming is quoted 
to the effect that all Russian leaders are Jews.^^ This prejudice, 
which Lewis shares with other neoclassicists, notably Maurras, occurs 
the next year in an article in The British Union Quarterly, formerly 
The Fascist Quarterly which had numbered Mussolini, Goebbels, 
and Mosley among its contributors. Addressing the British Fascists 
as "the Poor against the Rich," Lewis here writes: "You as a 
Fascist stand for the small trader against the chain-store; for the 
peasant against the usurer; for the nation, great or small, against 
the super-state." ^^ The left-wing orthodoxy has "swallowed the 

35. Ibid., pp. 105 ff. (and cf. p. 91, "the Germans ... do not dream of 
attacking France"); Wyndham Lewis, "That 'Now-or-Never' Spirit," Saturday 
Night: the Canadian Weekly, 57, No. 40 (June 13, 1942), p. 6. 

36. Left Wings, pp. 164-7 (e.g. "that the industrious and ingenious Italian, 
rather than the lazy, stupid, and predatory Ethiopian, should eventually control 
Abyssinia is surely not such a tragedy"). In 1939, when reversing these views, 
Lewis criticizes British policy over Abyssinia for exactly the opposite reason 
(Hitler Cult, pp. 140 ff.). 

37. Left Wings, p. 138. 

38. Wyndham Lewis, "'Left Wings' and the C 3 Mind," The British Union 
Quarterly, J, No. 1 (Jan./April 1937), 33. He repeats this idea in Count Your 
Dead, p. 322. No sooner had Lewis contributed this article to The British Union 
Quarterly than he again asseverated his complete political impartiality (Blasting 
and Bombardiering, p. 17). 

The quotation in my text touches upon Lewis' attitude to the sovereign State. 
Since his views on nationhood are almost impossible to reduce to consistency, and 

A Compromise with the Herd 83 

Spain of Moses Rosenberg without turning a hair." Moses, or Marcel, 
Rosenberg was the Soviet ambassador to Madrid at the time of 
the Spanish Civil War and is bitterly attacked by Lewis (for ex- 
ample, as a thief) in the same way that he bitterly attacked other 
philosophical enemies (Marinetti, we learn, got his wealth from 
a string of brothels in Egypt, and there is a suggestion that D. H. 
Lawrence died of a most unpleasant disease). 

since little new enters his thought on this subject, I have thought it best to 
relegate them to this note. At first one would conclude that Lewis would be 
against nationahsm, as another force in our world tending to align disparate points 
of view. The idea of the Arthur Press suggests this, and such is what we find 
in Blast No. 2, p. 72: "All Nationahty is a congealing and conventionalizing, a 
necessary and delightful rest for the many." Later, he claims that his Blast period 
was antinationalist because he originally saw nationahsm as antipathetic to art, 
a significant enough confession in itself. Wyndham Lewis, Wyndham Lewis the 
Artist, from "Blast" to Burlington House (London, Laidlaw and Laidlaw, 1939), 
pp. 15-17. 

However, there are many other references during the twenties which show 
Lewis antagonistic to nationalism (cf. Wyndham Lewis, "A World Art and 
Tradition," Drawing and Design, 5, No. 32, Feb. 1929, 56); in this way, he parts 
company from Maurras and, indeed, in Hitler, contrasts Maurras unfavorably 
with the Fiihrer, who is more democratic than the leader of the Action Frangaise 
{Hitler, pp. 32-3, 45-6). 

As Lewis becomes interested in fascism in the thirties, nevertheless, he 
sacrifices this early view and denounces internationalism, especially that repre- 
sented by the League of Nations which is a "collectivism" of underdogs. Con- 
sequently, he can plead that the nation-State facing this "collectivism" resembles 
the individual trying to liberate his potentialities against the fabric of democratic 
society {Left Wings, pp. 144-8, 268-73). In 1937 the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., Britain, 
and France have established a restrictive "monism," a moneylender's dream 
being heroically resisted by the decentralized "pluraHsm" of the Fascist nation- 
States {Count Your Dead, pp. 282-99). The sympathetic Don Alvaro, a fictional 
character of this time, detests internationalism. 

In two recent volumes, America and Cosmic Man and Rude Assignment, Lewis 
achieves a spectacular volte-face of these views. He is now, he assures us, a " 'pure 
internationalist,' " much to the dismay of Roy Campbell incidentally (Campbell, 
Light on a Dark Horse, p. 203 ) . 

Briefly, then, Lewis moves from internationalism on behalf of art, to nationalism 
on behalf of Hitler, back to his present concern with "cosmic man" and a "world- 
society" {America and Cosmic Man, p. 189; Rude Assignment, p. 193; Writer and 
the Absolute, p. 145). 

84 Politics 

In 1937 we reach the peak of Lewis' interest in fascism, and it is 
necessary always to read The Revenge for Love, his principal po- 
litical satire, against the background of these sympathies. In Count 
Your Dead: They Are Alive! Lewis commits himself on the Spanish 
question. Like other EngHsh writers, such as Edmund Blunden, 
Evelyn Waugh, Roy Campbell, and Lady Eleanor Smith,^^ Lewis 
here sees Franco as the legitimate aspirant for power. The book, 
which is composed of the notebooks of one Launcelot Nidwit given 
us by the autobiographical Ned, presupposes that British democracy 
is a sham — "The Death of John Bull" was erased from the title 
page of the first part of the manuscript. British democracy is taken 
as a Russophile tyranny: "all you have to say to Britannia is 'Hitler' 
and she sees Red! She clenches her fist, links arms with Blum and 
Litvinov, and is ready for anything." ^^ The freedom of the press 
comes in for especial scorn once more. Not even Pound, in Jefferson 
and/ or Mussolini, goes quite as far as Lewis here, when he suggests 
that the B.B.C. is on the side of the "Reds," and that in the U.S.A. 
the Hearst Press alone gives the truth. Baldwin has stifled public opin- 
ion and made England a tool in the hands of the Soviet, with the 
result that "we are about to go to war to make the world safe for 
Communism." ^^ 

The picture Lewis draws here of the situation in Spain is this: 
Franco, who has majority support, is fighting gallantly, with little 
money, against the overwhelming odds of his richly endowed ad- 
versaries, controlled by Moses Rosenberg. England and France 
have broken the Non-intervention Agreement, though the Germans 

39. Lady Eleanor Smith wrote at this time, "naturally I am a warm adherent 
of General Franco's, being, like all of us, a humanitarian." Quoted, Douglas 
Goldring, The Nineteen Twenties (London, Nicholson and Watson, 1945), p. 112. 
Lewis here uses such pro-Franco source material as Eleonora Tennant's Spanish 
Journey (London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1936), which contains a useful chapter 
on "The Red Terropj" 

40. Count Your Dead, p. 199. 

41. Ibid., p. 219. Lewis evidently enjoyed this phrase, having used it twice 
before: Wyndham Lewis, "Notes on the Way," Time and Tide, 16, No. 13 (March 
30, 1935), 457, and Left Wings, p. 66. 

A Compromise with the Herd 85 

have come to the rescue of law and order and Hitler's manners 
are "diplomatically impeccable." Britain is sponsoring Red atrocities. 
The cure for the situation is to allow those countries explicitly 
opposed to communism, especially Germany, to rearm. This is the 
book, then, that Lewis calls in 1950 "a first-rate peace pamphlet." 

In 1939 he reversed all these views in two works. The Jews, Are 
They Human? and The Hitler Cuh. These works begin a trend of 
political thought he has maintained, with individual differences, 
until the present day. In late 1938 Eliot derided "the irresponsible 
*anti-fascist' " who found "an emotional outlet in denouncing the 
iniquity of something called 'fascism.' " ^^ But in March 1939 
Lewis joined this irresponsible group. 

The Hitler Cult calls Hitler warlike, vulgar, and romantic; he 
is a power politician, both a true bolshevik (on one page) and "a 
typical democratic statesman" (on another). As for Hitlerism, this 
latter-day Sturm und Drang movement is now an unsubstantial 
Gothic dream, living on stale slogans, mystical and nihilistic. This 
ideology of the mob, a copy of Marxism, is relentlessly anti- 
individual. Lewis takes up the Blutsgefuhl idea and discredits it as 
a group-rhythm. In fact, it is clear that he is rewriting his earlier 
Hitler. Point after point, made on behalf of Hitler in the first book, 
is refuted, though there are some he wisely allows to die, such as 
his previous instancing of Czechoslovak persecution of minorities 
within their borders (in Left Wings). His subsequent satires 
reinforce this change of opinion; in America, I Presume an auto- 
biographical character refers to Hitler as a "barbarous little 
mountebank" and "demagogue." ^^ The Vulgar Streak, of 1941, 
is laid at the time of the Czech crisis and is clearly anti-Hitler; the 
villain of the book is a Fascist called Tandish. And at the end of 
Rotting Hill the narrator significantly makes his way to a fair- 
ground where, in a booth, he shoots down effigies of both Hitler 

42. T. S. Eliot, "A Commentary," The Criterion, IS, No. 70 (Oct. 1938), 59. 

43. America, I Presume, pp. 59, 293 (and see p. 33). Hitler is a "touchy 
mountebank" in The Hitler Cult, p. lU. 

86 Politics 

and Mussolini, and finally makes his peace with Britannia by 
dropping a threepenny bit in her mug. The Fascist-like Hyperides, 
from the first version of The Childermass, is killed off brutally at 
the end of the recent Monstre Gai, Self Condemned is even boringly 

But we must remember that this was a change of opinion for 
Lewis. We cannot accept his own word, in The Hitler Cult, that 
he saw through Hitler from the start. In Anglosaxony: A League 
That Works, published in Canada in 1941, he again contradicts 
previous support for Hitler, but is here more honest perhaps in 
claiming that as soon as he understood fascism it had no attraction 
for him.^^ Cecil Melville, replying in 1931 to Lewis' Time and Tide 
articles on Hitler, suggested that if Lewis really knew what Hitler 
stood for he would never support him. It is only fair to remember 
this volte-face, however, if we are to assess Lewis in the general 
perspective of contemporary British literature. He has repeatedly 
stated, in recent volumes, that he was one of the few British intel- 
lectuals who saw through Russian communism from the start; but 
the disillusioned "pinkos" and "Bloomsburies" could, I suppose, 
add that they saw through fascism from the start. 

Alas, "men are as the time is," as Edmund says in Lear and, in 
case there should be thought to be cant in these recantations by 
Lewis, it is only fair to him to bear in mind that complete changes 
of political opinion by writers have been a feature of our time. In 
1952 Sir Herbert Read reprinted in The Philosophy of Modern Art, 
without notice of alteration, an essay on surrealism first published 
in 1936. "Surrealism, like Communism, does not call upon artists 
to surrender their individuality," we read in 1936. In 1952 this 
sentence reads, "Surrealism does not, like Communism, call upon 
artists to surrender their individuality." 

Moreover, those of the left at the time Lewis was writing on 

44. Anglosaxony, p. 35. In this work Hitlerism is criticized as too much the 
doctrine of "action," but in Hitler Lewis had hoped that Hitlerism would prove 
the doctrine of intelligent "action." 

A Compromise with the Herd 87 

Hitler seem to have been so somewhat inadvertently: Arthur 
Koestler, for instance, whose conversions and reconversions have 
filled volumes, "was carried by the tide; my impulses and decisions 
were a reflection of those pressures, but not a conscious reflection." ^^ 
Although Stephen Spender has lately written that "I failed to find 
myself convinced by Communism," he describes his acceptance of 
membership of the Communist party in World within World and it 
is rather haphazard: "I accepted this proposal, and Pollitt at once 
gave me a membership card." ^^ Mary McCarthy describes herself 
as a "mere trifler" with such ideas in the thirties. ^^ John Lehmann's 
The Whispering Gallery could also be cited here. Nor can Lewis' 
political attitude of these days be called any more arrogant than 
that of writers of totally different beliefs. Koestler has recently 
stated, in effect, and Mary McCarthy seems to agree,^^ that at 
this time the left wing was right and the right simply wrong: "We 
were wrong for the right reasons; and I still feel that, with a few 
exceptions — I have already mentioned Bertrand Russell and H. G. 
Wells — those who derided the Russian Revolution from the be- 
ginning, did so mostly for reasons that were less honorable than 
our error." ^^ 

Of the "men of 1914," Joyce, Lewis, Pound, and EHot — the first 
dead, the second blind, the third mad, and the fourth an O.M. — 
only Joyce seems to have been able to keep apart from the political 
passions of our times and live the life of the true clerc. The ques- 
tion of a writer's political affiliation must remain outside the scope 
of this study, but what an acute dilemma it has been for the neo- 
classicist. Maurras died in (comfortable) imprisonment. Pound is 

45. Arthur Koestler, Arrow in the Blue (New York, Macmillan, 1952), p. 270. 

46. Stephen Spender, World within World (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1948), 
pp. 122, 192. 

47. Mary McCarthy, "My Confession — Part ii," The Reporter, 10, No. 1 (Jan. 
5, 1954), 31. 

48. Ibid., p. 30. 

49. Koestler, Arrow in the Blue, p. 274; and cf. in this connection pp. 234-6, 

88 Politics 

in a lunatic asylum. A lesser writer, William Joyce, who published in 
the British Fascist press at the same time as Lewis, ended his life on 
the gallows. It has even been asserted of Yeats that "In the political 
field, his opinions were quite definitely of a Fascist order." ^^ And to 
Yeats, Lewis' criticism sounded true. In 1927 Yeats wrote of Lewis, 
"I am in all essentials his most humble and admiring disciple." ^^ 

It is easy enough to ridicule these opinions a quarter of a century 
later. W. Y. Tindall has done this in the case of D. H. Lawrence 
"among the Fascists," showing how Lawrence's Mexican writings 
were recommended as Fascist apologia by Rolf Gardiner. Some 
distinctions should be made, however, before we pass judgment too 
easily. Lawrence, Yeats, and Campbell were all men who hungered 
for the human relationship in an increasingly urbanized society. 
Yeats loved aristocrat and peasant, while Broken Record is a cri 
du coeur for the feudal relationship of serf to lord, working inside 
which the poet could so directly manipulate mythology. So Yeats 
wrote Fascist marching songs (and rewrote them, too) for the Irish 
contingent which was to fight on the same side as Campbell's 
"Christs in uniform" in the Spanish Civil War. So Sacheverell Sitwell 
wrote his Canons of Giant Art of 1933 "in praise of Fascist Italy." 
This is one thing; it is quite another to make a critical analysis 
of the Fascist position, as did Lewis, and then support it with a 
number of books like Hitler, Left Wings, and Count Your Dead. 
In such works Lewis asks to be judged as a political thinker, as 
Lawrence never did, and we can justifiably repudiate the philosophy 
of these books if we want to, without making a literary criticism. We 
are simply repudiating the neoclassical political approach, one de- 
signed to act as outrider for certain literary values, just as Hitlerism 
was reciprocally an aesthetic slipped over into the political sphere 
(Goebbels wrote a Dostoevskyan novel at Heidelberg). 

50. Grattan Freyer, "The Politics of W. B. Yeats," Politics and Letters, 1, No. 
1 (Summer 1947), p. 13. 

51. The Letters of W. B. Yeats, ed. Allan V^ade (New York, Macmillan, 1955), 
p. 734; and cf. W. B. Yeats, A Vision (New York, Macmillan, 1938), p. 4. 

A Compromise with the Herd 89 

"The increase of the electorate, in Britain, is the destruction of 
Democracy," ^^ T. S. Eliot wrote in his article on "The Literature 
of Fascism" in The Criterion, adding a few years later that "hu- 
manitarian zeal" (which Campbell calls "moral perversion") is 
"always dangerous." ^^ Sometimes one wonders at the size of the 
vacuum inside which neoclassicism has existed in our century; now, 
after the second World War, with the contestant European nations 
panting in their corners, is surely the time for the pep talk from the 
seconds. But Eliot, Benda, and their colleagues have remained 
silent, or meekly repetitive, on politics. Neoclassicism seems to have 
little regenerating faith to offer, and its lack of contact with real 
political issues is brought out best by the barren aridity of Notes 
towards the Definition of Culture. 

In conclusion, it would be uncharitable, of course, to associate 
any of the neoclassicists mentioned above directly with fascism. "I 
am no Fascist," Campbell writes, referring to an article of his in 
The Fascist Quarterly. Perhaps, therefore, the final word on this 
problem in the case of Lewis should be left with Eliot, who in 
1937 wrote: "As for Mr. Lewis's politics, I see no reason to sup- 
pose that he is any more of a 'fascist' or 'nazi' than I am." ^* 

52. T. S. Eliot, "The Literature of Fascism," The Criterion, 8, No. 31 (Dec. 
1928), 281. 

53. T. S. Eliot, "A Commentary," The Criterion, 11, No. 44 (April 1932), 467. 

54. T. S. Eliot, "The Lion and the Fox," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./ 
Dec. 1937), unpaged. Stanley Edgar Hyman, The Armed Vision (New York, 
Knopf, 1948), p. 87, explores the (obviously absurd) idea of Eliot being in any 
way a Fascist. See, for an instance of this latter, Leslie Woolf Hedley's "Fascism 
and Modern American Poetry" in Contemporary Issues vol. 8 (1956), where 
we read: "The thing Eliot lacked that both Maurras and Pound had was the 

Chapter g: ' 'Mister Ivory Tower 

) ) 

" 'You, of course,' said a woman acquaintance in St. Louis once, 'are 
Mister Ivory Tower.' Probably I shrugged off that silly remark." 
[Rude Assignment, p. 100.] 

Attheendof Tarr, Tarr says, " 'The Many they are the eccentric 
— what do they matter? . . . Curse curse the principle of Hu- 
manity.' " Describing himself as a successor to the Nietzschean 
Superman, Tarr leaves Bertha, with her "democratic" face, and 
imagines himself as "this capricious and dangerous master . . . 
similar to Wellington breakfasting at Salamanca while Marmont 
hurried exultingly into traps : they were of the same metal [enemies 
of demagogues and haters of the mob]." ^ 

Like Lewis, Tarr wanted to see "great individuals" in the world. 
Anastasya was "too big." Tarr's treatment of both Bertha and 
Anastasya, both feminine, emotional, and democratic, brutal as it 
may seem, is necessarily so and is in the spirit of Pound's statement: 
"There is no misanthropy in a thorough contempt for the mob. 
There is no respect for mankind save in respect for detached in- 
dividuals." 2 " 'All effectual men,' " Tarr says, " 'are always the 
enemies of every time.' " 

If Lewis' faith in certain "positive" political trends of our time was 
deceived, his basic idea of a successful society does not alter. Only 
the "person" matters; the idea of the common good is a fallacy, for 

1. Tarr (Chatto), p. 318; the material in square brackets was inserted into the 
second edition. 

2. Ezra Pound, The Little Review Anthology, ed. Margaret Anderson (New 
York, Hermitage House, 1953), p. 102. 

"Mister Ivory Tower" 91 

"There cannot be any 'good' common to an unorganized mob of 
'things.' " A healthy society will only result from the formation 
of a cadre of "persons" at the head of the State. This elite, "per- 
sonal" in the true sense, must rule by a hierarchy that is ''perpen- 
dicular': Ned says, "I prefer a Democracy more like a pyramid, 
and less like a morass." England, Lewis tells us, reached world 
eminence through an "enterprising minority, of magnificent leaders," 
whereas "The vast face of the Massenmensch [sic] — the enormously 
magnified visage of the Little Man — is a degeneracy . . . such 
magnifications are inartistic." Or, as he put it in One-Way Song, 

Against the grain, we henceforth must discount 
This sleepy people petted and 'all-found.' 
Unless, unless, a class of leaders comes, 
To move it from its latter-day doldrums. 

Eliot, calling himself as had Babbitt a "thoroughgoing individ- 
ualist," ^ has also like Carlyle and Arnold (not to mention Ortega y 
Gasset) referred to the necessity of stirring the pampered masses 
of the modern democracies out of their apathy by means of a few in- 
dividuals. Maurras, in turn, has said the same, but the elite Maurras 
called for was an "elite hereditaire," and Lewis has always put 
intellectual before hereditary values. Since the whole of his political 
criticism, as I see it, hangs on the theory of an elite, it is perhaps 
only natural that he disclaims ever having held this notion. In 
1950 he writes: "The more intellectual minority proposed here 
as the occupational nucleus of a partitioned-off area of creative 
development as it were, at the apex of a massive human group, takes 
with it no effluvium of eliteness, at least not as conceived by me." 

This intellectual elite, who should abstain from contact with the 
"human herd," is symbolized by the Herdsman, whose "chief 
function" is to remain apart, on his mountain. The herd beneath 
him, after all, is stampeding to death. As Maurras put it, "La 

3. T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1950), p. 425; 
Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, p. 143. 

92 Politics 

Democratic accourt done, les yeux bandes, au cimetiere." ^ Thus 
both Maurras and Lewis have seen inequaHty as a necessity for 
mankind in its own interests. 

What Lewis often calls "the politics of the intellect," then, is 
nothing more complicated than the formation of an intellectual 
elite. And his solution for contemporary human society does not 
alter, except in particulars, from The Art of Being Ruled. Uni- 
formity must be resisted, humbug exposed, associational life with 
its system of syndics everywhere combated in the name of the Not- 
Self, politics must cease to dominate the field of speculative en- 
deavor, and creative intelligence must guide the world. For "The 
life of the intelligence is the very incarnation of freedom." ^ The 
intellectual elite, then, is the "ideal giant" or brain of society, which 
Kemp proposes and which is also hinted at in the form of the 
"universal" artist of Blast No. 2. There is a long plea for this 
"creative minority" inserted into the recent Self Condemned.^ 

To this summary should be added the rider that in any such 
society the "thing" will be content to serve the "person." For only 
a "person" may enjoy a right, and "human," we are told, meant 
for the Greek or Roman the willingness "to abide by a set of rules." 
Thus a stranger, lion, and bee were abnormal, or "wild," since they 
had not overtly recognized the laws of the dominant society; they 
had not acknowledged social necessity, that it is the privilege of the 
"thing" to serve the "person." ^ These views, forming Lewis' ideal 
of human society, are gathered at the end of The Childermass when 
Alectryon, his very name suggesting the dawn of a new social era 
upon the West, puts the case for the elite against the Bailiff's liber al- 

4. Maurras, Idees politiques, p. xxiii. Maurras frequently finds democracy a kind 
of death, as well as a mandate to barbarism. 

5. Art of Being Ruled, p. 448. 

6. Wyndham Lewis, Self Condemned (London, Methuen, 1954), pp. 79-96. 

7. It would merely complicate Lewis' argument here to introduce the case 
of the Roman slave. The slave was in the special position of only having recog- 
nized the laws of the dominant society under duress; he was thus "normal," for 
Lewis, in that he lived by the rules of this society and served the "person," but 
he was "wild" or "abnormal" in that he did so at the point of the whip. 

"Mister Ivory Tower" 93 

ism ("liberally loving and even worshipping black red and yellow 
men as his brothers and teachers"). 

The ideal of an elite is a premise of neoclassicism and rests largely 
on the idea that order, authority, discipline are the foundations of 
a good society. For Maurras, indeed, order was a sacred syllable, 
an echo of Comte heard in the silence of the night. Not "organisa- 
tion" but "ordre" is Maurras' call; for the Greeks, he reminds us, 
knew that things in themselves were worthless and that it was only 
in their order that value lay. Authority, for Maurras, is as important 
as beauty and genius, tradition as vital as sun and blood. Lasserre 
and Babbitt do not disagree here, while for Pound it is the "will 
toward order" that marks out the great individual, like the Duce; 
Pound puts this view in Jefferson and/or Mussolini, the last word 
of which is "order." Eliot, who has consistently advocated more 
authority in the State, gave his For Launcelot Andrew es the sub- 
title of Essays on Style and Order. Lewis, who in one place admits 
that all his work has been on behalf of order, pleads for authority 
in the State as in art.^ 

The neoclassicists are, in fact, most closely allied in this matter 
of the elite and of "order," a word Sir Herbert Grierson especially 
associated with the classical in his now famous essay "Classical 
and Romantic." Eliot, though denying Lewis any "positive theory," ^ 
finds him close to Benda and Babbitt. Robert Gorham Davis de- 
tects Babbitt's roots in Maurras, while Folke Leander has made 
a close comparison between contemporary American humanism, 
as represented by Babbitt and Paul Elmer More (to whom Eliot 
paid tribute in The Criterion for July 1937), and Seilliere. In fact, 
Leander finds them "identical." ^^ 

8. Jews, p. 74; Wyndham Lewis, "The Artist as Crowd," The Twentieth Century, 
3, No. 14 (April 1932), 12. This periodical recalls a literary society of the thirties, 
called the Promethean Society, to which Lewis may or may not have belonged, 
but which numbered men like Hugh Gordon Porteus and whose aims appear to 
have been Lewisian, if not Lewisite. 

9. EHot, Selected Essays, p. 419. 

10. Folke Leander, Humanism and Naturalism (Goteborgs Hogskolas Goteborg, 
Elanders Boktrycheri Aktiebolog, 1937), p. 61. 

94 Politics 

Yet only in the broadest boundaries should Seilliere be linked 
with Lewis. Seilliere is author of a large oeuvre, much of which is 
concerned with a special view of "imperialism." This, Seilliere says, 
is man's desire to dominate nature, his "libido dominandi," as he 
calls it (from St. Augustine), likening it to Nietzsche's Wille zur 
Macht}'^ This "imperialism," or "elan d'expansion vitale," is praise- 
worthy if balanced by reason, or by that "synthese de I'experience 
humaine" which Seilliere equates with reason. Elsewhere, SeilUere 
calls reason the synthesis of knowledge and experience, ^^ or what 
most of us call tradition. Reason and logic, Seilliere says, issue 
from experience, producing what he calls "raison-experience." With- 
out this quality imperialism turns into mysticism. By mysticism — 
and Benda employs the term with the same special referent in La 
Trahison — Seilliere means the search for the divine, or noumenal, 
in man's libido dominandi. Primitive, intuitive, usually fanatical, 
this "mysticism" may be a tonic for action, but to be fruitful it must 
be accompanied by "la raison grandie avec le savoir" and "le conseil 
de I'experience sainement interpretee de notre passee." In his book 
on Lawrence, Seilliere finds Lawrence's "vitalism" to be this kind 
of misguided "mysticism," or "imperialisme irrationel," which is 
romanticism.^^ But where is this reason located? Seilliere answers, 
"dans certains individus d'elite ou de choix." But although Seilliere 
approaches Lewis in this way, although he sees romanticism as 
evil (in his fourth volume on "imperialism"), although in his book 
on Baudelaire he can scarcely tell which has done French literature 
the most harm, Victor Hugo or Baudelaire, he is yet ready to 

11. Seilliere, Le Romantisme, pp. 9-10; Ernest Seilliere, Romantisme et demo- 
cratie romantique (Paris, fiditions de la Nouvelle Revue Critique, 1930), p. 21. 

12. Seilliere, Romantisme et democratie romantique, pp. 26, 33, 141. 

13. Benda refers to Seilliere's theory of imperialism and mysticism, calling the 
latter "dynamisme." Although Lewis equally dislikes what Benda means by "dy- 
namisme," he never uses the English "dynamism" in a special sense like this. It 
is as well to note this before tackling Lewis' art criticism. With Seilliere, Benda sees 
this form of libido dominandi as a necessary part of life, but hopes that it may be 
soundly restrained. (Benda, Epreuve, p. 217. There is a misprint on this page. 
Benda himself refers the reader to p. 45 for his discussion of Seilliere's views. This 
should read p. 85, however.) 

''Mister Ivory Tower" 95 

criticize excessive rationalism. In passing, one notes that the in- 
dictment of these stock villains, Hugo and Baudelaire, under "le 
mal romantique" neglects the aims of the romantics of the eighteen 
thirties. The idea of an intellectual elite may be found in the 
preface to Hernani (as it can, what is more, in the work of that 
socialist, H. G. Wells). 

Lewis' dissociation of himself from the idea of an elite may, 
indeed, be due to his dislike of the chauvinist and hereditary nature 
of such an elite, as proposed by certain of the French antiroman- 
ticists. Maurras, Lasserre, and "Agathon" agree here. Lasserre, for 
instance, who ameliorated his views concerning romanticism and 
cooled toward Maurras, retained his national bias to the end. One 
of his latter works Des Romantiques a nous, of 1927, opens with 
a denunciation of the un-French nature of romanticism. Of course, 
there may be some truth in this idea, although many critics feel 
that in France the romantic movement reached its most fruitful and 
brilliant heights; yet we should not associate Lewis with it. On the 
whole, he does not consider any one nation more intelligent than 
any other today. All have their faults, for him. "Agathon," also, 
attacking Gustave Lanson for his egalitarian system of education, 
wants to train the masses "par I'exemple des meilleurs, du petit 
nombre" in UEsprit de la Nouvelle Sorbonne, and proposes "le 
type nouveau de la jeune elite intellectuelle" in Les Jeunes Gens 
d'aujourd'hui, but he too is filled with nationalist prejudice. Lewis 
was no more happy with a nationalist elite than was Babbitt, or 

As regards its hereditary nature he parts company from Maurras 
and Eliot. And perhaps this is why Eliot, though finding the French 
"an insolent people," has yet been able to praise so highly the 
Action Frangaise. Maurras continually insisted on hereditary values, 
as located in family, monarchy. State, and Church. ^^ Eliot has also 

14. Benda not only is critical of Maurras himself throughout La Trahison but 
also criticizes the whole neoclassical love of order which he finds linked to war. 

15. When Lewis criticizes Maurras, he usually does so on the grounds of 
"action." It is fair to say that Maurras held a different view of "action" (see the 

96 Politics 

admitted to being a "royalist," but since he has more than once 
expressed dissatisfaction with critics who refer to this statement, 
it might be as well to look elsewhere for this principle. It may be 
found quite early: "A real democracy is always a restricted de- 
mocracy, and can only flourish with some limitation by hereditary 
rights and responsibilities." ^^ More recently Eliot has specified his 
elite, a community of Christians maintaining the oflicial body of 
belief in the State (which sounds like the British Council). In- 
deed, Eliot will allow no alternative to this view other than totali- 
tarianism: "If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) 
you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin." ^^ Chapter 2 of 
Notes towards the Definition of Culture ("The Class and the 
Elite") further clarifies that this Christian elite should be the re- 
pository of cultural values, and this view, of the close correlation 
between art and religion, is something Lewis would not like. Eliot's 
elite, which we should instantly elect and which should live in 
leisure (of the old kind), is to overlap with the dominant or govern- 
ing elite, again hereditary: "The governing elite, of the nation 
as a whole, would consist of those whose responsibility was in- 
herited with their affluence and position." ^^ To which we may 
reply: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 

Eliot's elite may be close to that of Maritain ^^ but it is not the 

name of his movement) from Lewis or Benda. But Lewis also praises Maurras in a 
number of places. Like Hulme, Maurras for Lewis helped to correct the idea that 
the average man was good {Blasting and Bombardiering, pp. 109-10). It may be 
true, as Mansell Jones writes (P. Mansell Jones, Tradition and Barbarism, London, 
Faber and Faber, 1930, p. 81), that Maurras has been one of the few today to 
have produced a new philosophy (though I personally would contest this); but 
if one is simply after novelty in thought, one need only repair to a lunatic asylum. 

16. Eliot, "Literature of Fascism," p. 287. 

17. Eliot, Christian Society, p. 64. 

18. Eliot, Definition of Culture, p. 85. 

19. Maritain, Humanisme integral, p. 266. Although he called for a new elite in 
this work, as in Christianisme et democratie in the last World War, Maritain is not 
entirely innocent of the evasive purple passage in lieu of a definition of this 
elite (cf. Christianisme et democratie, p. 86). Maritain is opposed to an "6galitarisme 

"Mister Ivory Tower'' 97 

elite of Lewis or of that "libertarian," ^o to use Eliot's word for 
him, Ezra Pound. And it was for his secular heresies that Eliot 
criticized Irving Babbitt. For Eliot, Babbitt's Confucianism was 
"a deracination from the Christian tradition," ^^ and the new Amer- 
ican humanism "alarmingly like very liberal Protestant theology of 
the nineteenth century," ^^ in The Forum for July 1928. The real 
danger in Babbitt's humanism was that it might become an alterna- 
tive to religion, rather than a servant of it. In his obituary notice 
of Babbitt in The Criterion for October 1933 Eliot regrets that 
Babbitt's mind remained "obdurate" to the Christian religion to 
the end, and "Second Thoughts about Humanism" adds little be- 
yond further fear of the Protestant nature of American humanism. 
Like Lewis, Babbitt bewailed the "disappearance of leaders" 
today. Using the word "imagination" as the faculty which sought 
out unity in the diversity of life,-^ Babbitt wanted an "imaginative 
conservatism" to counter the unchecked use of phantasy (Rous- 
seauian romanticism). The "critical humanism" -^ he called for was 
to employ the faculty of discrimination (for Lewis, roughly the 
intellect) to check contemporary excesses — Maurras often uses the 
word "critique" in this sense. This humanism was, of course, sternly 
opposed to humanitarianism. In La Trahison Benda distinguishes 

niveleur" and is not so romantically optimistic as to attribute good sense to the 
common man. He hopes for a "humanisme heroique" and proposes that the new 
elite come equally from lower and upper classes (Maritain, Christianisme et 
democratie, pp. 89-90, 108). Like Benda, Maritain detests entirely practical 
politics, which he calls "politicisme," but he does not seem to lay as much stress 
on the intellect as does Lewis, and he condones force in a way that neither 
Benda nor Lewis would (Maritain, Humanisme integral, pp. 281-4). 

20. Eliot, After Strange Gods, p. 45. Would this reference be the reason for 
Pound's attack on Eliot for this book, already cited, in A Visiting Card? 

21. T. S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (London, Faber 
and Faber, 1933), p. 132. 

22. Eliot, Selected Essays, p. 422. 

23. Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, pp. 10-13; Babbitt develops his special 
use of "imagination" more fully in On Being Creative. 

24. Irving Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 
1919), p. 382. 

98 Politics 

between true and false humanitarianism; the quality is good when it 
is humanism, that is a disinterested, intellectual interest in the 
human animal in the abstract. But the love of human beings in 
the concrete is generally a sentimental compromise, modern hu- 
manitarian politics sailing under the flag of practical considerations. 
Both Babbitt and Lewis would agree to this, but Babbitt's social 
justice was bound up in his idea of the "ethical," and in this Lewis 
would not share. Babbitt's "ethical will" presumes that art, the 
aesthetic will, must acknowledge a superior force, just as Eliot's 
elite presumes that art should serve religion. I am not arguing for 
or against these philosophies, but for Lewis art must be supreme. 
He is far closer to the nineteenth-century aesthete than he likes to 
imagine. So he would not be happy with Babbitt's elite, as when 
Babbitt writes: "The ethical State is possible in which an important 
minority is ethically energetic and is thus becoming at once just 
and exemplary." ^^ 

For Lewis the "person," or Not-Self, is above ethics, beyond 
morals. These are for the animal kingdom, for the "thing": "Dogs, 
horses, cats and cows are the natural, and the true, clients of the 
moral philosopher, I believe." So, in a word, we can say that Eliot 
criticized Babbitt for not being religious enough and Lewis criticized 
him for being too religious. Finally, in passing, I should note that 
T. E. Hulme's "humanism," which I shall examine below, was 
entirely different from Babbitt's. In the political questions posed by 
neoclassicism Hulme was divided. He defends Bergson — and for 
the same reason that Lewis attacks him ^^ — but in The New Age 
for November 9, 1911, agrees with Lasserre's antiromanticism and 
is drawn to the Action Frangaise. Finding "the fixed and constant 
nature of man" his classical ideal, Hulme dislikes what he calls 
social progress upward and, as "North Staffs," is a militant anti- 

25. Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, p. 309. 

26. Hulme defends Bergson as opposing the world of mechanical determinism. 
T. E. Hulme, Speculations (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1924-), pp. 
143-69; T. E. Hulme, "Notes on Bergson— iii," The New Age, 10, No. 4 (Nov. 
23, 1911), 79-82. In Time and Western Man, as well as elsewhere, Lewis arraigns 
Bergson as "mechanical." 

"Mister Ivory Tower*' 99 

liberal who takes extreme issue with Bertrand Russell in The New 

The whole question of neoclassical political thought requires a 
sociologist, as much as a literary critic, for its interpreter; and it 
can hardly be supposed that the present critic, who spent six years 
of his youth uniformed to combat a politician Lewis liked to think 
"classical" (Adolf Hitler ),2'^ would be able to achieve total im- 
partiality. Indeed, these problems are so much with us as I write 
that the inclination is not to criticize neoclassicism at all, for fear 
of being at once placed in the opposite camp by the reader. But the 
existence of these extreme antiromanticists, attacking what Leon 
Daudet called "le stupide dix-neuvieme siecle" (and Pound, in 
Gold and Work, "the infamous century of usury") for what its 
writers would never have supported today, is enough, in the words 
of W. Y. Tindall, "to establish the romantic character of our age." ^^ 
Surely this is testified by the very impossibility of the claims made by 
the neoclassicists. It may have been a reaction against the romantic 
politics of Rousseau, but to be of consequence a reaction must 
bring with it something from which the suffering society may take 
suck. And Regis Michaud, inspecting the movement from a fund 
of knowledge and experience far greater than my own, concludes 
that the whole neoclassical and anti-Sorbonnist movement in France 
was traditional. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being tra- 
ditional. Traditions usually contain some elements of value in order 
to become such, and the resolutely antitraditional temper can pro- 
duce as repressive an orthodoxy of opinion as ever an "Agathon" 
saw coming from the Sorbonne. But Michaud finds neoclassicism 
a social philosophy that makes no effort to meet contemporary 
conditions. 2^ 

As regards any judgment on Lewis' own share in the movement, 
as far as its politics is concerned, perhaps an article in Experiment, 

11. Hitler, p, 184. 

28. William York Tindall, Forces in Modern British Literature 1 885-1946 
(New York, Knopf, 1947), p. 106. 

29. Regis Michaud, Modern Thought and Literature in France (New York, 
Funk and Wagnalls, 1934), p. 262. 

100 Politics 

a periodical edited from Cambridge (England) at the end of the 
twenties, puts the case fairly. The editors of Experiment, calling 
themselves "Five" and including William Empson and J. Bronow- 
ski in their ranks, are happy that Lewis sets out to think, but "de- 
plore that he has chosen so often to communicate the process rather 
than the result." ^^ "Five" go on to liken Lewis to Benda in that 
both men only seem able to comment and observe, rather than 
conclude. L. Rudrauf , a French scholar, has made precisely the same 
criticism of Seilliere, that he is an observer rather than architect 
of philosophy. And if this is true of other neoclassicists, we must 
remember that it is just this point Bergson makes in Introduction 
a la metaphysique, namely that observation from the outside enables 
you to analyze, but not to attain, reality. 

"Five" suggest that Lewis is in the dilemma of disliking any asso- 
ciation of art and politics and of insisting on art being close to reality. 
Yet our reality, for better or worse, has been a political reality. So, 
forced against his will into association with politics, Lewis has 
formulated a politics impossible to realize today. Because of this 
his political criticism is possessed with contradiction, for "the 
politics of the intellect" (of art, for him) is an anachronism now, 
if it were not so for the past five hundred years in Europe. "There 
are no good politics," but today we must five by their laws. Calling 
himself ''a man of the tabula rasa'* with an "ahistoric" mind, Lewis 
admits that he would have liked to have lived in "a society in 
which I was beneath a law." But not beneath our laws. It is not 
unfair to say that he has seen no one else apart from himself capable 
of the revolution necessary for that "tabula rasa," or of that formula- 
tion of acceptable laws under which men might live freely. One 
is forced to admit the truth in that criticism of Lewis' politics made 
both by Frank Swinnerton ^^ and T. E. Lawrence,^- both friendly 

30. "Five," "Wyndham Lewis's 'Enemy,'" Experiment, No. 3 (May 1929), p. 2. 

31. Frank Arthur Swinnerton, The Georgian Literary Scene (London, Heine- 
mann, 1935), p. 476. 

32. Quoted from letters to Sir William Rothenstein, thanking him for sending 
copies of The Enemy to T. E. L. in Karachi. Sir William Rothenstein, Since Fifty 
(London, Faber and Faber, 1939), p. 70. 

"Mister Ivory Tower" 101 

critics and the latter a man who leapt Lewis' garden wall to meet 
him, to the effect that Lewis has attacked all not of his party, and 
that since his party consists of himself alone he has been kept busy. 
As Arghol puts it in The Enemy of the Stars, "Anything but your- 
self is dirt." 

Ultimately, the lesson of Lewis' political criticism is that a writer 
should not indulge in political criticism. It is amazing, in fact, that 
a man so sensitive to words could use them so wildly and irre- 
sponsibly. It is indeed a "bloody crossroads," as Lionel Trilling so 
suggestively puts it, where art and politics meet. Lewis has paid 
for trespassing here. Apart from anything else, the works we have 
been considering, some of them distinctly ephemeral, have meant 
an enormous waste of time and energy for the author of The Apes of 
God and the artist who could draw "Surrender of Barcelona," and 
who had made his place in the history of painting secure by 1920. 
In general terms, however, Hugh Kenner puts the case against 
Lewis best here when he writes that "The polemics exalt a rhetorical 
kind of knowing over a grasp, m depth, of what there is to know." 


"Reality is in the artist, the image only in life, and he should only 
approach so near as is necessary for a good view. The question of 
focus depends on the power of his eyes, or their quality." [Blast No. 
J, p. 135.] 

Chapter 6: A Sort of Life 

"Art at its fullest is a very great force indeed, a magical force, a sort 
of life, a very great 'reality.' " [The Diabolical Principle and the Di- 
thyrambic Spectator, p. 69.] 

If we can say that for Wyndham Lewis the function of art is 
to depict reality, we need to fortify ourselves at once with a host 
of definitions. Let us first say that reality can best be represented by 
a plastic art relying on form, and in particular on the line. The 
apprehension of reality, which is human awareness, is always to 
be accomplished for Lewis from the outside, and he immediately 
accords the painter the highest position in the arts. This can be 
found in a number of places, in an article in The English Review 
for January 1922, in the encyclical delivered to Zagreus (the key 
to The Apes of God), and throughout Time and Western Man. In 
his attack on Spengler in this last work he puts the contrast, to be 
repeated by the sympathetic Greek Hyperides, in The Childermass, 
between "classical," external painting and "romantic," internal 
music. He would have agreed with Hulme who wrote that "an art 
like music proceeds from the inside.'* Spengler is "musical." He 
attacks the principle of the hard outline, as do Bergson and Einstein. 
So, riding roughshod over any particular distinctions on this point, 
neglecting a composer like Bach, for instance, Lewis writes in Time 
and Western Man: "the line (or 'drawing,' in whose repudiation 
by his faustian spirit you see, above, Spengler exulting) is the Clas- 
sical; whereas the aerial perspective, chiaroscuro, is the musical 
invention of the germanic North." ^ 

1. Time and Western Man, p. 290. 

106 Art 

"Je ha'is le mouvement qui deplace les lignes!" Lewis tells us he 
said to Marinetti, and his own practice certainly substantiates this. 
Contrasting Lewis' method in painting with that of the Cubists, 
Patrick Heron writes in The New Statesman and Nation for Jan- 
uary 12, 1952, that in his own work Lewis "finds the outline first." 

If art, then, is to depict reality, what is the formal relationship 
between art and life? Here, like his character Kemp, Lewis main- 
tains from the first that art is stronger and more important than 
life. "The Artist's OBJECTIVE is Reality," we read in Blast No, 1 
(when Lewis had arrived at his purely abstract phase), to which 
is added, "The 'Real Thing' is always Nothing." If we watch Lewis' 
use of inverted commas, we will not find him contradictory on this 

Life, in other words, "reality," is merely the material to be ma- 
nipulated by the intelligent artist. "Deprived of art . . . Life in- 
stantly becomes so brutalized as to be mechanical." ^ We must 
remember that the man who wrote this was also to be author of the 
statement, "Merely by living we contaminate ourselves." ^ There 
are two important essays where Lewis develops these views, "Vortices 
and Notes" in Blast No. 7/ and "Essay on the Objective of Plastic 
Art in Our Time" in The Tyro No. 2. To summarize these essays 
is simply to paraphrase Wilde's Decay of Lying or some of Whistler's 
aesthetic. Only artistic life, the life of the intelligence, is true life. 
The only reality exists in the artist's intellect. Nature, uninterpreted, 
can only be a mirror of general abasement, a photograph of a de- 
generated condition. Nature by itself is insignificant, unimportant, 
and the inspired artist is told, in Blast No. 2, that he must rearrange 
nature, or "ENRICH abstraction." "Dissociating vitality from 
beef," the artist must reach the essential, life. 

One could prolong the association between these ideas and much 

2. Blasting and Bomhardiering, p. 262. 

3. Hitler Cult, p. 173. 

4. "Vortices" is respelt to "Vorteces" in one place {Blast No. 1, p. 127), but I 
have adopted Lewis' more usual spelling here. 

A Sort of Life 107 

nineteenth-century aesthetics (especially those of Whistler or 
Baudelaire), for we have the same idea of the artist as privileged 
individual, supreme interpreter, rewarded indeed by a place in 
heaven, as in Baudelaire's Benediction or Stefan George's Ich 
forschte bleichen eifers nach dem horte. But a distinction arises as 
to the manner in which the rearrangement of reality is to be brought 
about; for Lewis there is only one tool the artist can and should 
use, namely the intellect. And the intellect makes its presence chiefly 
felt in the eyes. "The act of creation," Lewis states, calling intellect 
here the will, "is always an act of the human will." ^ He goes on, 
in this interesting essay in The Tyro, to describe what for Wilhelm 
Worringer is "empathy"; but that feeling of significance, or enjoy- 
ment, we may have in observing nature, at watching a river or a 
star, is for Lewis only the art impulse ("the situation that produces 
art"). The act of art itself is a transcending of this situation by 
means of the intellect, and in a " 'civilized' " time, one unafflicted 
with democratic pretensions that is, the onlooker would see a new 
reality, artistic truth, in the apparent distortion, or "abstraction": 
"One is to display a strange world to the spectator, and yet one 
that has so many analogies to his that, as he looks, startled into 
attention by an impressive novelty, he sees his own reality through 
this veil, as it were, momentarily in truer colours." ^ In passing, 
one notes that this is where Lewis leaves Babbitt again. Babbitt's 
"critical humanism" — by which we may alone seize reality — was 
to be a "cooperation of imagination and intellect," as opposed to 
the unrestrained use of the former faculty Babbitt saw in the ro- 
mantic movement (following the separation of fancy, imagination, 
and judgment, reason, in the eighteenth century). In Democracy 
and Leadership Babbitt writes of "the supremacy of will." But al- 
though he attaches an appendix on this subject, it is not easy to 

5. The Tyro No. 2 (London, The Egoist Press, 1922), p. 31. This power, Lewis 
has more than once confessed, is supernatural in origin — "That the artist uses 
and manipulates a supernatural power seems very likely" (Time and Western 
Man, p. 198). 

6. The Tyro No. 2, p. 33. 

108 Art 

define what Babbitt meant by "will." Still, it is certain that the 
humanism he proposed was bound up with an inner spiritual life 
and would "subordinate intellect to the ethical will." ' The "ethical 
self" was Babbitt's principle of inner control, or check, and to 
"ethical will" the intellect was finally subordinate. It is hardly neces- 
sary to evidence how strongly Lewis would disagree with this last 
conception and perhaps Babbitt knew this, for he saw a Lewis 
drawing in Eliot's flat as "a piece of incoherence." ^ 

The declaration of war on life by art ^ which Lewis soon pro- 
posed does not mean that the artist should cease to live. Far from 
it. We are told of the Enemy in One-Way Song that "He knows to 
live comes first." Elsewhere Lewis protests, "Do I enjoy watching 
a man drink a glass of beer as much as I do drinking it myself?" 
But it does mean that the realm of art is sacrosanct, the preserve 
alone of the intellect. For, after all, only "a very small number of 
inventive, creative men are responsible for the entire spectacular 
ferment of the modern world." ^^ In art, as in politics and philosophy, 
only "the exceptional individual" matters. "Art is a fluid moving 
above or over the minds of men," ^^ Pound wrote in The Spirit of 
Romance, and again, "The arts are kept up by a very few people." ^^ 

The heresy of what Lewis calls the "dithyrambic spectator," then, 
is the invasion of the inviolable artistic stage, or dance, by the 

7. Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, p. 195. 

8. Montgomery Belgion, "Irving Babbitt and the Continent," T. S. Eliot. A 
Symposium (London, Editions Poetry London, 1948), p. 52. Perhaps this reaction 
explains why Babbitt wept at the first Cezanne he saw. That is to say, one is 
never sure whether Babbitt wept with dismay at the "incoherence" of the Cezanne, 
or with joy at seeing classical principles reintroduced into painting. The latter 
reaction would have been more nearly Lewis', we shall see, but I fear that it 
was the former which moved Babbitt to tears. 

9. For one of Lewis' many statements on the proximity of art and war in 
his mind, see Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 67. On the flyleaf of the copy of 
this work which he inscribed for Lord Carlow, we find him writing, "I send 
this war-life." 

10. Time and Western Man, p. 141. 

11. Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance (London, Dent, 1910), p. vi. 

12. Ezra Pound, Imaginary Letters (Paris, Black Sun Press, 1930), p. 3. 

A Sort of Life 109 

spectator — "audience-participation," as he also called it. The second 
part of The Diabolical Principle and the Dithyrambic Spectator ^^ 
is a discussion of a work that pretends to show art and ritual close, 
the consequent involvement of the spectator in the act of art being 
for Lewis another aspect of the democratic conceit. The spectators 
must be kept off the stage, else art will be corrupted. Philosophy 
(Spengler, especially) and politics are afflicted with this heresy 
today, but it is chiefly in art that Lewis finds the onlooker mixing 
in forms of reality which should be above him. This leads everyone 
to want to be an artist, particularly the rich who can afford the 
leisure therefor; this creates the millionaire Bohemia he excoriates 
in The Apes of God. For, although he uses "ape" in another, special 
sense, the characters in this work are dithyrambic spectators, apes 
or impersonators of the godlike artist; this is perhaps epitomized in 
the character of Dick Whittingdon, a satire of the late Richard Wynd- 
ham. Reciprocally, the heresy makes for child art, since art is 
degraded by having to cater for what the onlookers, the masses, 
want, and the masses, Lewis knows, simply want to be children, 
"resolute and doctrinaire Peter Pans." Thus the heresy is partly a 
political phenomenon: "Communism is the influence that, entering 
the theatre, causes the spectators to swarm on to the stage and 
all become actors." ^* 

In "the excellent Belphegor," as Lewis calls it, we also find the 
idea of the dithyrambic spectator. Observing that the mixture of 
art and life is bad, Benda finds too much of our art emotion itself 
and sees before him "une abolition de distinction entre Fartiste et 
les choses, d'une dissolution de sa personnalite dans leur ame, a 

13. Although we find Snooty Baronet defining the mind as the diabolical 
principle, or inveterate enemy of the passionate flesh, Lewis refers in this title 
to romantic "diabolism." He is thinking particularly of transition, and of its 
review of a reissue of Lautreamont's Chants de Maldoror. 

14. For examples of this heresy in Lewis' satire, see Apes, pp. 258, 265-6; 
Revenge for Love, p. 327. For Tarr, woman is the inveterate dithyrambic spectator, 
" 'the arch-enemy of any picture' " as he puts it to Anastasya. Tarr (Chatto), 
p. 302. 

110 Art 

revanouissement de tout jugement." At about the same time 
Ramon Fernandez was making the same complaint: "Une grande 
partie de la litterature de notre XX^ siecle est dominee par cette 
confusion de Fart et de la vie." And one can find the same in other 
neoclassicists. But in Bergson's defense one should remember that 
he pleaded that the great comic artist should remain detached, in 
Le Rire, while the different domains he accorded intellect and in- 
tuition in UEvolution creatrice are also forgotten by the antiroman- 
ticists. In his doctoral dissertation, Essai sur les donnees immediates 
de la conscience, Bergson again showed the danger of mixing static 
intelligence (Paul) and dynamic intuition (Pierre). 

But in this dislike of art and life Lewis is closer to the German 
aestheticians, and particularly to Wilhelm Worringer, than to 
Whistler or Baudelaire. I will go into this below; here it is enough 
to point out that for Worringer "der primitive Mensch" (first of 
his four distinctions in human culture) lived at odds with life, from 
which he abstracted life in the truest sense. The art of primitive man 
existed inasmuch as it was removed from, and an ordering of, the 
chaos of the world around him. Oriental art refined this condition 
and, in turn, Egyptian art was "iiberorientahsch." ^^ For Worringer, 
then, the artistic significance of abstract art relied on its absence 
of life; its line was accordingly a result of the will, rather than of 
the senses. "Gothic" line, however, is for Worringer sensuous and 
organic, a flow continuing that of the body. By contrast: "Die 
Linie der primitiven Ornamentik ist geometrisch, ist tot und 
ausdrucklos. Ihre kiinstlerische Bedeutung beruht einzig und allein 
auf dieser Abwesenheit alles Lebens." ^^ 

For Worringer, as for Lewis, this kind of abstract art is geometric, 
masculine, and unconcerned with sex: "Starrheit, unmenschliche, 
aussermenschliche Starrheit ist das Zeichen dieser Kultur." ^'^ This 

15. Wilhelm Worringer, Agyptische Kunst (MUnchen, Piper, 1927), p. 7. 

16. Wilhelm Worringer, Formprobleme der Gotik (Miinchen, Piper, 1912), p. 

17. Worringer, Agyptische Kunst, p. 106. 

A Sort of Life 111 

idea, of the reduction of chaotic "life" to the deathlike stillness of 
artistic (or real) life, is most important to emphasize before ap- 
proaching Vorticism. And it is an idea Lewis takes furthest when 
examining Professor Elliot Smith's researches in Egyptian mum- 
mification: "Indeed, in dynastic Egypt, art comes nearer to being life 
than at any other recorded period: and apparently for the reason 
that it was death." 

This paradoxical statement can be clarified in this way; art only 
exists in its abstraction from the so-called alive, or spuriously alive, 
since what we call "life" (the life of "things," or machines) is a kind 
of death, a decease of the soul, that is. In the case of Egyptian 
mummification (which is, after all, an attempt to control time), 
art has taken over entirely, for here the fully conscious artist is 
unimpeded by the fluxes of "life," his sitter being dead, and yet he 
is working on the product of life itself. Eccentric as it may seem, 
this is what Lewis says: "Into the egyptian living death, again, a 
good deal of the rigor mortis has passed. And that suits art ad- 
mirably. It asks nothing better than a corpse, and it thrives upon 
bones. Did not Cezanne bellow at his sitter, when he fell off the 
chair, * You're moving! Les pommes, qa. ne bouge pas!' " ^^ 

Lewis is not saying that this kind of art is the greatest of all time, 
but that theoretically its conditions are ideal. At once this view 
opposes the romantic one of bestowal of a soul on nature. So Bertha 
is a pantheist in Tarr. And Bertha here derives from Benda's 
criticism of Bergson's pantheism and from Lasserre's Le Roman- 
tisme frangais, where Lasserre finds pantheism a Germanic synthesis 
of progress and false nature. ^^ It is in this context that the important, 

18. Diabolical Principle, p. 181. In this analysis Lewis goes on to claim that 
for the mummifier artist "The EYE was the last thing to resist his ingenuity." 
Once he had mastered this, however, his mummy "lived," that is, it became 
wholly art. Cf. the quotation in my text with the Lesbian-Ape's instruction to Dan 
Boleyn (Apes, p. 231). 

19. Lasserre, Romantisme frangais, p. 537. At the end of this work Lasserre 
develops an interesting attack on pantheism in various guises, much of which 
may be found in Lewis also: Lasserre here criticizes political pantheism (fanati- 

112 Art 

and otherwise difficult, conversation between Tarr and Anastasya 
at the end of Tarr must be read. Anastasya asks Tarr: 

"What is art? — it sounds like Pompous Pilate!" 

"Life with all the humbug of living taken out of it: will that do?" 

"Very well: but what is life?" 

"Everything that is not yet purified so that it is art." 


"Very well: Death is the one attribute that is peculiar to life." 

"And to art as well." ^o 

In the revision of this passage from the first edition, we find an 
intensification in the thesis. Anastasya has been given a new speech, 
in which she says, " 'the artist has to hunt and kill his material so 
to speak.' " Tarr's remark that life has a soul has been excised. 
When a character called Affie dies in Self Condemned, Rene re- 
flects of her: "How dignified and how real." ^^ The idea of dead- 
ness, of Worringer's total abstraction (ridiculed in The Childermass, 
incidentally, when a painter rejoices over a severed head, as it is 
also ridiculed in Huxley's Point Counter Point), is what Tarr de- 
siderates for graphic art: 

deadness is the first condition of art. The armored hide of the 
hippopotamus, the shell of the tortoise, feathers and machinery, 
you may put in one camp; naked pulsing and moving of the 
soft inside of life — along with elasticity of movement and con- 
sciousness — that goes in the opposite camp. Deadness is the 
first condition for art: the second is absence of soul, in the 
human and sentimental sense. With the statue its lines and 
masses are its soul, no restless inflammable ego is imagined 
for its interior: it has no inside: good art must have no inside: 
that is capital. ^2 

cism), aesthetic pantheism (love of the norm, rather than of the beautiful), and 
"pantheisme du coeur" (dilettantism). 

20. Tarr (Chatto), p. 302. 

21. Wyndham Lewis, Self Condemned, p. 301. 

22. Tarr (Chatto), p. 303. One should enter a caveat here. Although no human 
soul should show through a work of art, yet art presumably has its own soul, 

A Sort of Life 113 

In Time and Western Man Lewis repeats Tarr's views as his 
own: "The dead ossature — that is the region of the human will," 
and again, "I vie with Professor Moore in wanting things solid 
and wanting them dead." This deadness, we are told, is the only 
way the artist can be realistic: "deadness, above all, for the fullest, 
most concrete ^realism,' is essential." -^ This is not so perverse as it 
sounds; reality is only in the artist's mind. The "reality" of our 
world, on which his inspired intellect should play, is the v/orld 
of common sense. Here experience is to be credited over appear- 
ance, speculation to be decried, and the basis of truth sought in 
belief rather than in the intuition or imagination. Reality, the re- 
ordering of "reality," is the preserve of the higher individual, or 
"person"; "reality is to be sought in the self or the person." Henri 
Clouard makes a very similar claim for the benefit of the French 
neoclassicist, and its political parallels stand out clearly. For col- 
lective truth ("reality") is no truth, since the opinion of a lot of 
"things," tossed together, is valueless: "when we 'get together,' and 
clash and fuss, scrutinize and sift, we frequently arrive at a point 
at which collectively we become convinced that the rose is not red." 

From this collective fuss the private mind of the "person," the 
inspired artist, abstracts a static permanence which is aesthetic 
verity. " 'Death is the thing that differentiates art and life,' " Tarr 
says, and in an article not long after Lewis refers to this "deadness," 
calling it the painter's "immortality," or "a sort of death and silence 
in the middle of life. This death-like rigidity of the painting or 
statue ... is one of the assets of the painter or sculptor." ^"^ 

This still center at the heart of our busy life is the idea of Vortex 
for Lewis. It is the principle of unity in the maelstrom of our life's 
diversity. Babbitt frequently writes of a similar "centre" in life, 
associating it with "oneness." The creation of this ultimate, still 

since it is performed in interests other than those of this world, as Lewis often 

23. Time and Western Man, p. 212. 

24. Wyndham Lewis, "The Credentials of the Painter — i," The EnglisJi Review, 
34 (Jan. 1922), 36. 

114 Art 

center is the consummate act of creation for Lewis. It is "The Art 
of the Great Race"; it is "DOING WHAT NATURE DOES," ^s 
that is, truly creating. Or, in the words of Babbitt: "To look to a 
true centre is, on the contrary, according to the classicist, to grasp 
the abiding human element through all the change in which it is 
implicated." ^^ 

25. Blast No. 2, p. 46. 

26. Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism, p. 391. 

Chapter 7: Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 

"In my criticism of 'L'ecole de Paris' I have never gone so far as to get 
out of sympathy. But from that time as a philosophy it has seemed to 
me uncreative. It makes the best of a bad job, perhaps: and we all do 
that, after all. It is only when people insist too much that it is a good 
job — that it is not a pis-aller with foundations that are unreal and 
highly unsatisfactory — that I grow restless. Wildly to acclaim disaster 
is the worst type of defeatism. There is nothing so bad as lyrical en- 
thusiasm about defeat." [Rude Assignment, p. 159.] 

If Wyndham Lewis' Vorticism was a correction of contempo- 
rary excess, what elements did it set out to correct? Lewis' criticism 
of modernity in the graphic arts is a criticism of those trends he dis- 
likes in politics. The French Impressionist movement, especially, is 
the diagnostic of a romantic and uncivilized time ("Impressionism 
is too doctrinally the art of the individual"). Although in Blast 
No. 1 he concedes Impressionism value in accustoming the public 
to a brighter palette, in insisting on light (though this reached a 
cul-de-sac, for him, in pointillism ) , essentially the French nine- 
teenth-century movement in painting was guilty of that heresy we 
have examined: "The impressionist doctrine, with its interpene- 
trations, its tragic literalness, its wavy contours, its fashionable 
fuss, points always to one end: the state in which life itself super- 
sedes art." ^ 

We can excusably leave further analysis of this movement, for 
Lewis simply challenges Impressionism as nineteenth-century ro- 
manticism, and pass on to the present. In doing so, Cezanne should 
be excepted. For, in common with Andre Lhote and other critics, 

1. The Tyro No. 2, p. 31. 

116 Art 

Lewis rejoices to see classical principles being reintroduced in the 
work of Cezanne. Cezanne is "something like a pure Classic," and 
again, "an heroic visual pure." ^ This feeling he does not get when 
faced with the post-Cezanne Cubist movement. This, Lewis para- 
doxically asserts, is too photographic a style for his taste. ^ I shall 
return to this, but I cannot help feeling that it was as an ugly dis- 
tortion of nature (such as Victor Stamp seems to be indulging in, 
when we meet him in The Revenge for Love) that Lewis really 
disliked this movement. Handley-Read and Patrick Heron both 
independently see Lewis' own drawing as opposite in method to 
that of the Cubists who, far from reaching the hard outline first, 
work from within, they suggest, proceeding outward from the 
sensation of a plane — "infilling," Handley-Read calls it. 

Allowing for the occasional personal crotchet elsewhere, the 
burden of Lewis' criticism of graphic art is to be found in his de- 
structive pamphlet, published with The Egoist Ltd. in 1919, called 
The Caliph's Design. Architects! Where Is Your Vortex? This pas- 
sionate plea for the divorce of art and "style" is one of the least 
strident and most impressive of all Lewis' critical works, and it seems 
to have received the best press of any of his books (America and 
Cosmic Man received the worst). The Piccadilly Review (Ford 
Madox Ford), The Athenaeum (J. Middleton Murry), The Cam- 
bridge Magazine, The New Europe, The Spectator, and Arts Gazette, 
all praised the argument of this pamphlet, if quarreling with its 
literary style. The daily papers seem to have been equally polite, 
unusually so in their case over a Lewis work. The Times for Novem- 

2. Caliph's Design, p. 71. In Blast No. 1, p. 137, Cezanne is called an "imbecile." 
This is certainly not typical of Lewis' comments on this painter, and I cannot 
account for it, beyond pointing out that the first Blast was concerned to advance 
English painting beyond that on the Continent and therefore Cezanne may have 
been included in the general indictment of French painting. 

3. Wyndham Lewis the Artist, pp. 75-7. But in Men without Art, p. 203, 
Cubism seems to have evinced a brief awakening of classical tendencies. I discuss 
this below. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 111 

ber 13, 1919, even finding him "too favourable" to Picasso! Of 
course, some of this approval can be put down to the fact that super- 
ficially The Caliph's Design can be read as a conservative appeal 
to "stop the rot" coming from Paris. 

One of the principal manifestations of this "rot," for Lewis, has 
been the love of novelty, a criticism shared with French neoclas- 
sicists. Maurras attacks our love of the novel, and our facility for 
accepting spontaneity as genius, in L'Avenir de l intelligence, and 
Benda, making the same criticism in Belphegor, adds that our love 
of novelty is due to the increased luxury of living today. What 
Babbitt called "the cherishing of glamour," then, is for Lewis the 
"apriorist heresy" — apply a formula to nature, and a novelty will 
start forth, we will be confronted with a "system of surprises." This 
is a prime danger in aesthetics today, the danger that only the new 
may have prestige. It is a form of spiritual indolence, Lewis says, 
in the sense that the modern artist is too lazy to approach nature in 
the classical (external) manner and so seizes whatever in nature 
will confirm his own inner theories. This tendency Andre Lhote 
also calls "apriorisme" both in his La Peinture: Le Coeur et V esprit 
and his admirably intelligent articles in The Athenaeum after the 
first World War, and for Lewis it finds a dupe in D. H. Lawrence. 

T. S. Eliot, who thought Lawrence's work that of "a very sick 
man indeed," found Paleface, where this heresy is chiefly considered, 
a "brilliant exposure." ^ Since Lewis wrote that Paleface was "my 
reaction at the time to Lawrence (D. H.)," the work can pre- 
sumably be taken, on one level, as an exposure of Lawrence's 
apriorist heresy. Such it is. Lawrence is guilty of having imported 
his own philosophic ideals into his interpretation of the American 
consciousness, of proselytizing about the Indian Geist, of inviting 
a victory of emotion over mind. Lawrence's writings are destructively 
committed "on the side of the oppressed and superseded, the under- 
dog." Seilliere goes nowhere near as far as this in his book on 

4. Eliot, After Strange Gods, pp. 63, 66. 

118 Art 

Lawrence, but he makes a close connection between Lawrence 
and Klages, another alleged enemy of the intellect and author of a 
study of Stefan George published in 1902. The year after Paleface 
came out Lawrence was highly impolite to Lewis in an introduction 
to Edward Dahlberg's Bottom Dogs, while for Lawrence's real 
attitude to the Negro his derogatory review of Carl van Vechten's 
Nigger Heaven should be read. 

This mention of an apriorist writer is necessary here, because the 
equivalent in painting is the principal disease of art in our time. 
Hungering after sensation as we do, setting up novelty as authenticity, 
we approach the world around us in a blind, apriori manner, with 
the result that we are easily deceived by two trends — the cult of 
the child, and that of the primitive. Here Gauguin stands in for 

Gauguin, "a vulgar tripper by the side of Cezanne," shares in that 
kind of romanticism which champions Asiatic exoticism over Euro- 
pean rationalism. Lawrence, Gauguin, Baudelaire, Zola, Stevenson 
(an impeccable black list for the neoclassicist) have "ruined us with 
their dreams." This decadent and defeatist exoticism, of which Dada 
is also part,^ is a tendency Lewis hoped Hitler would cure in 1931. 
Gauguin, ridiculed at the Cafe Berne in Tarr, is characterized in 
The Caliph's Design as 

this absurd bechevelured figure daubing pretty colours, like 
a malicious and stupid urchin, on every idea that had been 
pronounced moribund, and that was destined for the dustbin. 
But clearly this individual, this masquerader, this bag of 
schoolboy conceits, this old-clo merchant, loaded with rusty 
broadswords, Spanish knives, sombreros, oaths, the arch-priest 
of the romantic Bottle, was not an artist-type. Gauguin was not 
an artist-type. He was a savage type addicted to painting. He 
was in reality very like his sunny friends in the Marquesas 

5. Wyndham Lewis the Artist, pp. 46-8. And Lewis here adds the criticism that 
a movement like Dada is bad since it gives the art world just the chance it is 
looking for not to take art seriously. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 119 

Islands. He was in as limited a way a savage as an American 
negro is typic, or a Jew over-raced and over-sexed.® 

Among the French antiromanticists, Seilliere was strongly op- 
posed to this same primitivism ("naturisme"), but "cette ecole 
regressive" of modern art which Seilliere sees as seriously risking 
its sanity includes Van Gogh and Cezanne. The whole appendix 
to Seilliere's Le Mai romantique, entitled "Le Romantisme dans 
I'art contemporain," reads more like the art criticism of a retired 
colonel than of a sensitive aesthetician, so that I cannot think this 
aspect of the neoclassical attack Seilliere's forte. "^ Andre Lhote, on 
the other hand, though milder in his criticism than Lewis and clearly 
more concerned to help his reader than state a point of view, is 
somewhat similarly opposed to Gauguin in his Parlous peinture, 
while obviously enjoying discipline and geometrical order in paint- 
ing and, in La Peinture, welcoming the hard line and "realisme 
solide'* of Cezanne. 

For Lewis this pictorial primitivity is one with the cult of the 
child (linked to "youth-politics"). He has always opposed child 
art and in The Listener, shortly before he went blind, derogatorily 
reviewed an exhibition of children's paintings, pointing out that 
their qualities were inspired by the adult. He has been especially 
critical of Sir Herbert Read in this respect — Sir Herbert replying 
with damnation of Vorticism ^ — the story "My Disciple" in Rotting 
Hill being a skit on the kind of art Read likes. Here an art teacher 
{ne army sergeant) called Gartsides, deriving his authority from 
Read, sets his pupils loose in the emotional world Lewis loathes; 
for them, "Art was doing what they liked. '' Babbitt, in the section 
of The New Laokoon called "The Theory of Spontaneity," makes 
similar criticisms of child art. And if this attack on the primitive and 

6. Caliph's Design, p. 37. 

7. Ernest Seilliere, Le Mai romantique. Vol. 4 of "La Philosophie de Tim- 
perialisme" (Paris, Librairie Plon, 1908), 379-82. 

8. Sir Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art (London, Faber and 
Faber, 1952), p. 44. 

120 Art 

child in contemporary painting seem to us today unexceptional and 
unexceptionable, it must be remembered that Lewis' own art grew 
up against these trends. Thus, in the Catalogue to Roger Fry's 
famous "Post-Impressionist Exhibition" of 1911, where advanced 
styles in painting were first shown to a wide English public (and 
where Lewis himself showed), we read the following: "Primitive 
art, like the art of children, consists not so much in an attempt to 
represent what the eye perceives as to put a line round a mental con- 
ception of the object. Like the work of the primitive artist, the 
pictures children draw are often extraordinarily expressive." ^ 

They are indeed, Lewis would say, but expressive of what? So, 
going from this exhibition to work in Fry's Omega Workshops, he 
soon found them too dilettantist for his tastes. There then followed 
Vorticism, in which his criticism of contemporary trends is espe- 
cially partial. When he returned from the war, he began a period 
of art criticism, including some perspicacious articles in The 
Athenaeum, The Caliph's Design, and an important Foreword to 
his first one-man exhibition, called Guns, at the Goupil Gallery in 
February 1919. At this time he formed his "X" Group, to which 
E. McKnight Kauffer among others belonged, but he tells us later 
that this resurrection of Vorticism was undertaken "against my 
better judgement." 

The criticism of this period is summarized in The Caliph's De- 
sign, which is a plea for classical principles in art as much as for 
anything. It is a plea for standards of beauty, rather than standards 
of executant genius. We are the first civilization, Lewis reminds 
us, to accept the ugly as the visual mode of our time. The great 
cultures of ancient China and Japan, however, saw life whole, in 
a way we refuse to, and would have considered our art either 
perversely insensitive or mere "rough popular art." This is pre- 
cisely what Lasserre designates by aesthetic pantheism, the love of 
the average (or ugly) rather than exceptional (or beautiful) going 
hand in hand with revolution and romance. And to justify such 

9. Catalogue, Post-Impressionist Exhibition (London, Grafton Galleries, 1911), 
pp. 11-12. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 121 

art as the painting of the common man, Lewis reminds us, is making 
an ethical, not aesthetic, judgment. 

The Caliph's Design, which he later calls another Blast or "fight- 
talk," studies a contradiction, then, between executant vitality in 
modern painting and "a very serious scepticism and discouragement 
in the use of that vitality." The first part deals with architecture, 
taking, in Aristotelian fashion, the largest subject in the field, the 
city, first. Here, Lewis suggests, the Cubist contribution could most 
constructively be put to use. Again in 1940, writing in The New 
Republic, he sees modern abstract art as really a branch of archi- 
tecture. If the architectural journals were unhappy with the rhetorical 
question of Lewis' title (one of them answering that fortunately 
they had not got a vortex), at least Lewis influenced McKnight 
Kauffer. Blast No. 2 pleaded for abstraction in popular art, even 
in underground railway posters, and this of course was the direction 
Kauffer was to explore so rewardingly after the war. 

What The Caliph's Design really challenged, however, was the 
whole development of studio art. Here Lewis found the most vul- 
nerable point at which to attack the ecole de Paris. Choosing as 
representatives of modern painting such artists as Derain, Matisse,^^ 
Kandinsky, Braque, Oris, and, especially, Picasso, Lewis finds this 
painting full of life in its executive skills, but fatigued in vision, 
even pessimistic in their application: "Listlessness, dilettantism is 
the mark of studio art. You must get Painting, Sculpture, and De- 
sign out of the studio and into life somehow or other if you are 
not going to see this new vitality dessicated in a Pocket of inorganic 
experimentation." ^^ This vievv' is maintained. In 1940 he writes: 
"The artist must, if he is to survive, come to terms with the people 

10. Another ambivalent attitude must be recorded here. In Blast No. 1, p. 142, 
Matisse is highly praised. However, later, perhaps when Matisse had developed 
his characteristically distorted odalisques, Lev/is classes him in the category of 
imbecile artist, to which in literature Gertrude Stein belongs. So we read, "The 
goitrous torpid and squinting husks provided by Matisse in his sculpture are 
worthless except as tactful decorations for a mental home" {Art of Being Ruled, 
p. 419). 

11. Caliph's Design, p. 7. 

122 Art 

at large, and no longer accept the role of a purveyor of sensation, 
or of a highbrow clown, to a handful of socialites." ^^ 

Picasso exemplifies this spirit. Although Lewis writes that his 
estimate of Picasso in The Caliph's Design refers only to the artist 
up to 1912 or 1913, we also find from the pamphlet that Lewis had 
visited the Picasso exhibition put on in London shortly after the 
end of the first World War and which drew somewhat similar, though 
far less severe, criticism from Andre Lhote. But Lhote defended 
Picasso from "apriorisme," and it must be borne in mind that 
Lhote, for whom Cezanne constituted "the first recall to classical 
order," ^^ liked the resuscitated interest in David at this time, an 
interest Lewis explicitly deplores in The Caliph's Design. In Lewis, 
possibly from the authority of his own performance, we have the 
only significant English critic of this time making a thorough, 
thought-out rejection of Picasso and of the ecole de Paris. Clive 
Bell, who wrote scathingly of Lewis' own painting, and especially 
of R. H. Wilenski's praise of it,^^ showed the customary reverence 
when approaching Picasso in his articles entitled "Order and Author- 
ity" which began in The Athenaeum for November 7, 1919. 

Having said this, one must hastily add that Lewis has always 
conceded Picasso great ability as a painter. Even in The Caliph's 
Design Picasso is a "great artist," "one of the ablest living painters," 
the painter of the future. Five years later he is a "very wonderful 
artist," 1^ and a decade later still "superbly gifted," and so on. But 
Picasso is symptomatic. Technically gifted as he is — and Lewis 
sees him as a "performer" like Joyce — he exhibits that love of 
novelty and of the ugly which afflicts our art today. The source of 
his constant alteration in style is boredom and lack of belief; pro- 

12. Wyndham Lewis [Letter], The New Republic, 102, No. 21 (May 20, 1940), 

13. Andre Lhote, "Cubism and the Modern Artistic Sensibility," The Athe- 
naeum, No. 4664 (Sept. 19, 1919), p. 920. 

14. Clive Bell, "W^ilcoxism," The Athenaeum, No. 4688 (March 5, 1920), pp. 

15. V^yndham Lewis, "Art-Chronicle," The Criterion, 3, No. 9 (Oct. 1924), 107. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 123 

phetically, Lewis predicts in 1919 that Picasso will quickly tire 
of each new style he explores. In brief, Picasso is a mirror of his 
times like Joyce, "an interpreter rather than a creator" ^^ as he 
wrote in 1940. For Lewis' criticism of Picasso has not altered. Re- 
viewing a Picasso exhibition in London in 1950, he still finds 
Picasso "blamelessly highbrow," a "conjuror" he admires, but the 
possessor of an "almost smug vitality." ^^ So Lewis criticizes in 
Picasso our own age. As with much of his criticism, there is a grain 
of truth in it, but Picasso can hardly be blamed for reflecting his age, 
when Lewis admires other artists who did the same in classical 
times. If Picasso had remained in, say, his celebrated "blue" period, 
which Lewis might call classical (though one cannot tell, as some 
critics see this period as hopelessly romantic), he would have been 
far less a painter than he is today, having run the gamut of prac- 
tically every aesthetic expression of our time. 

But as footnote to this criticism through Picasso of the intellectual 
bankruptcy of our times, one can happily add that in the discus- 
sion of Picasso in The Revenge for Love Tristram Phipps (who 
seems to own Vorticist paintings ^^ and is thus probably a sym- 
pathetic artist) defends Picasso. Tristy feels "another conscience" 
(that of art) in the face of the attack on Picasso made by the po- 
litically conscious artist, Victor Stamp, and the pretentious Semitic 
art critic, Peter Wallace or Reuben Wallach. 

At first glance The Caliph's Design, brilliant pamphlet as it is, 
seems torn by a contradiction fundamental to Lewis' entire art 
criticism. How can we align the high place accorded the artist with 
the detestation of "life" in Lewis' aesthetic? With one hand Lewis 
removes the artist from humanity lest he become contaminated by 
the herd, with the other he tells him to leave his studio and "live." 

16. Wyndham Lewis, "Picasso," The Kenyon Review, 2, No. 2 (Spring 1940), 

17. Wyndham Lewis, "Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 44, 
No. 1135 (Nov. 30, 1950), 650. 

18. Jack Cruze describes one on Tristy's wall as like "a blooming airplane crash 
in the middle of a football scrum" {Revenge for Love, p. 116). 

124 Art 

The contradiction is only apparent. The artist's intellect, housed in 
the eyes, must remain aloof, apart from particular passion, but it 
must irradiate the whole world of nature, not merely that unrepre- 
sentative section to be found in the artist's studio. 

Secondly, there is another seeming contradiction, in Lewis' own 
practice. But again it is possible to square this up with his critical 
beliefs. On the whole, it can be said that Lewis' art shows three 
styles, entirely realistic, semi-abstract, and fully abstract. 

In the first group we find his portraits, especially those executed 
at St. Louis during the last war, and the two likenesses of T. S. 
Eliot, for the rejection of the first of which by the Royal Academy 
of 1938 Augustus John tendered his resignation to that body (he 
resumed membership two years later and the portrait is now at 
Durban). Lewis reproduces many of these heads in his autobi- 
ographical volumes and their success as regards design can scarcely 
be in doubt. The head of Ezra Pound shown at the Goupil Gallery 
in 1919, for example, drew praise from all sections of the press, 
The Observer for November 9, 1919, finding here "the synthetic 
reconstruction of personality in legitimate and pure terms of art." 

In the second style we find external nature, including man him- 
self, suffering some distortion. But the metallic, armored, machine- 
like figures that stalk this section of Lewis' work (cf. "Inca and 
the Birds," the last plate in Rude Assignment) are not really dis- 
tortions for Lewis when we acknowledge his view of the human 
species. What is more, this artistic transcending of the world of 
"things," which he is giving us here, is by no means ugly — at least 
I am sure Lewis did not intend it to be so. The distortion is based 
on his philosophic beliefs: "We preferred something more metallic 
and resistant than the pneumatic surface of the cuticle. We pre- 
ferred a helmet to a head of hair." 

The third style offers the most serious contradiction to Lewis' 
expressed beliefs; that is the period of Vorticism, around the second 
decade of this century, when he banished nature altogether from 
his drawing and relied on form for his effects — a period we shall 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 125 

watch Hulme criticizing below, and which Yeats thought "stylistic 
arrangements of experience." ^^ But this period, Lewis has repeat- 
edly asserted, was only a temporary affair, primarily designed to 
drive English art ahead of that on the Continent. In this fully 
Vorticist work even the "gay intellectual shell" disappears and we 
are faced with the acrobatic of formal arrangements and shapes. 
Lewis retrospectively explains his intention here: 

In the year or two prior to World War I. I attempted totally 
to eliminate from my work all reference to nature ... At 
that early period I reproached, even, the Paris school; of 
*'nature-mortists," as I called them, for their inability to free 
themselves from the habit of naturalism. It was their practice 
to begin by painting a straight still-life, or figure (as morte 
as was the "nature-morte" ) , and then subject it to abstraction 
and distortion ... If you are going to be abstract, I argued, 
why worry about a lot of match-boxes, bottles of beer, plates 
of apples, and picturesque guitars? Why not turn your back 
upon familiar objects altogether — since by the time you had 
finished your picture they had, in any case, almost disap- 
peared? 2^ 

Such is the explanation for what he calls the "de-humanizing" of 
his art at this period, but it was only an interim period: "no one 
but an idiot — or a Dutchman, like Mondrian — would pass his life 
in that vacuum." ^^ Virtually the same criticism is made in his 
Foreword to his 1921 exhibition, "Tyros and Portraits": "Again, 
abstraction, or plastic music, is justified and at its best when its 
divorce from natural form or environment is complete, as in Kandin- 
sky's expressionism, or in the experiments of the 1914 Vorticists, 

19. Yeats, Vision, p. 25. 

20. Wyndham Lewis, Introduction, Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings, Draw- 
ings, and Watercolours by Wyndham Lewis (London, Redfern Gallery, May 5, 
1949), unpaged. 

21. Wyndham Lewis, "Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 
1104 (March 23, 1950), 522. 

126 Art 

rather than when its basis is still the French Impressionist dogma 
of the intimate scene." ^^ 

Those who know the history of Lewis' artistic development will 
know that after about 1924 (when, of course, he begins his strenu- 
ous literary criticism) he becomes increasingly less abstract in his 
painting, culminating in his call for a new naturalism — "Super- 
nature versus super-real" — in 1939. He announced "The End of 
Abstract Art" in 1940, predicting that its cadaver will flicker on 
in decay for a few more years in America, and after the second 
World War his page in The Listener was remarkable for its hos- 
pitality to realist, or semirealist, painters like Francis Bacon, Edward 
Burra, Michael Ayrton ("classical" ^^), Ceri Richards, Keith 
Vaughan, and the Scottish painters (who appear at the end of 
Rotting Hill) Colquhoun and McBryde. To some extent, the 
phenomenon of total abstraction in Lewis' work may be attributable 
to two sources, first, as complete a reaction as possible to English 
academicism, and second, infatuation with the teaching of T. E. 
Hulme. Although Huhne, as we shall see, was not happy over total 
abstraction, Lewis has himself suggested this latter source in Blast- 
ing and Bombardiering. Total abstraction, after all, makes a telling 
contrast to the "romantic" view which places man at the center 
of the universe. 

22. Wyndham Lewis, "Foreword: Tyros and Portraits," Catalogue, Exhibition 
of Paintings and Drawings by Wyndham Lewis (London, Leicester Galleries, April 
1921), pp. 6-7. But Kandinsky is castigated elsewhere. As I have pointed out, I 
must simply try to preserve the unity of Lewis' argument and discount the personal 
crotchet that crops up occasionally and does not seem the representative of a 
sustained point of view. 

23. Wyndham Lewis, Note, Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, 
Book Illustrations, and Designs for the Theatre by Michael Ayrton, arranged by 
the Wakefield City Art Gallery (Yorkshire, May 1949), unpaged. Interestingly, 
Lewis here defines "classical" art as follows: "I have used the word 'classical,' by 
which I mean nothing more pedantic than the image purified of the sensational: 
such degree of timelessness as is involved in cleaving to perfection: a chasteness 
in colour (reaching at times in Ayrton's case the chill of a conventional austerity) : 
a clarity in form, the shunning of the romantic blur and blotch, fastidiously dis- 
pensing with nineteenth century atmospherics." 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 127 

We are now able, I believe, to see as he would wish us to what he 
means by calling Cubism photographic. For although there are 
moments when Lewis seems to suggest that Cubism made a refresh- 
ing (and anti-Bergsonian) re-emphasis on form, he usually associ- 
ates it with Impressionism. He does so in The Athenaeum in several 
places: "The particular decomposition and distortion of Cubism 
is a compromise, in one sense, within the dogmatic tradition of 
French 19th. -century naturalism." ^^^ 

One need not agree with the interpretation Lewis throws on 
Cubism, but it helps us to understand what is otherwise a difficult 
criticism. One of the tenets of Impressionism, he claims, was "catch- 
ing the Moment on the hop," that is, the artist's "photographing" 
a specific moment at a specific time and in a specific place. This, 
of course, is opposed to the classical ideal of permanence. He 
explains in The Athenaeum, and Lhote agrees, that the Cubist is 
attempting also to give this momentary feeling of the interior of the 
studio, "the immediate truth of the copy of La Presse, the morning 
coffee-cup, the roof seen from the studio window." But the Japanese 
print was aiming to achieve the static perfection of eternity. In 
just the same way he comes to criticize the Futurists, for a more 
extreme example of this romantic "immediacy." 

Lewis' criticism of Futurism, from his "A Review of Contempo- 
rary Art" in Blast No. 2 on, is most interesting, for Futurism had 
much in common with Vorticism. Futurism was anti-Cubist, even 
anti-Picasso, as was Lewis, but it contained elements obviously 
anathema to him, so that when Marinetti told him on their way to 
the Cafe Royal that he was a Futurist, Lewis could sincerely reply, 

The first Futurist manifesto ("Manifesto del Futurismo") ap- 
peared in the Figaro for February 20, 1909. It advocated speed, 
machines, the future, war ("We wish to glorify War — the only 
health giver of the world"), youth, and the destruction of museums: 

24. Wyndham Lewis, "I. Nature and the Monster of Design," The Athenaeum, 
No. 4673 (Nov. 21, 1919), p. 1231. 

128 Art 

We shall sing of the great crowds in the excitement of 
labour, pleasure or rebellion; of the multi-colored and poly- 
phonic surf of revolutions in modern capital cities; of the 
nocturnal vibrations of arsenals and workshops beneath their 
violent electric moons; of the greedy stations swallowing 
smoking snakes; of factories suspended from the clouds by 
their strings of smoke; of bridges leaping like gymnasts over 
the diabolical cutlery of sunbathed rivers; of adventurous liners 
scenting the horizon; of broad-chested locomotives prancing 
on the rails, like huge steel horses bridled with long tubes; 
and of the ghding flight of aeroplanes, the sound of whose 
screw is like the flapping of flags and the applause of an en- 
thusiastic crowd. 2^ 

Marinetti, better known himself as a poet and the editor of 
Poesia rather than as a painter, immediately began a strenuous 
lecture campaign, which early took him into the Lyceum Club in 
London, for Marinetti was a rich man and traveled far and fast. 
The "epileptic rhetoric," as Lewis calls it, of these lectures was 
a distinctive feature of the Futurist movement and certainly im- 
pressed those English who heard them. When Marinetti lectured 
at Bechstein Hall in London on March 19, 1912, for instance. The 
Times tells us that his audience "begged for mercy." Epstein says 
that when all else failed Marinetti used to imitate the sound of 
machine guns on the podium. ^^ But possibly Epstein was simply 
deceived by what Stella Bowen calls Marinetti's "zoom-bang poetry," 
for the Futurist leader made a point of reciting poems now from 
his subsequent collection called Zang Tumb Tuuum. These poems 
were avowed attempts at typographical painting, or the Klang- 
gedichten of Hugo Ball later, a form best utihzed in our times by 
E. E. Cummings perhaps, and worst by Kurt Schwitters in transition, 

25. I use the translation contained in the Catalogue to the Futurist Exhibition 
(London, Sackville Gallery, March 1912), p. 4. 

26. Jacob Epstein, Let There Be Sculpture (New York, Putnam, 1940), p. 52. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 129 

and of which the following is a characteristically Marinettian ex~ 


urzzzzzzz aaaaaaaaaaaa 

goia goia goia goia ancora ancora vendetta 

ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta 

Goldring also attended one of these spirited meetings in London 
and describes Marinetti of the time as "a flamboyant personage 
adorned with diamond rings, gold chains and hundreds of flashing 
white teeth." ^^ 

The second Futurist manifesto appeared in April 1909 and was 
entitled "Tuons le clair de lune!" ^^ It was an even more hysterical 
document than the first and actually gave the signal to the Futurists 
to open fire ("Attention! . . . Feu!"), for a cardinal point of this 
movement was the conversion of the salons into fields of battle. 
On February 11, 1910, there appeared the Manifesto dei pittori 
futuristi and on March 8 a spectacular exhibition and lecture series 
were given by the Futurists at Turin. On April 11, 1910, La pittura 
futurista: manifesto tecnico came out, Balla and Severini now 
joining Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, and Russolo as signatories. ^^ 
Further manifestoes, and manifestations, followed, including a 
musicians' manifesto, a motion picture manifesto (Marinetti's La 
cinematografia futurista), and special, urgent summonses to dilatory 
Venetian and Spanish Futurists — Venice being reviled for its gon- 
dolas and canals. On March 9, 1911, Marinetti lectured in Paris 
at the Association des Etudiants de Paris, and in this year published 
Le Futurisme, a convenient compilation of these views. The next 
year the Futurists staged their international exhibition, their 
"Putsch," as Lewis calls it. From Bernheim, Jeune et Cie. in Paris 

27. Douglas Goldring, South Lodge (London, Constable, 1943), p. 64. 

28. F. T. Marinetti, Le Futurisme (Paris, Sansot, 1911), pp. 155-78. I base my 
date on Luigi Fillia, // Futurismo (Milano, Sonzogno, 1932), p. 19. 

29. Reprinted in Umberto Boccioni, Pittura, scultura futuriste (Milano, Edizione 
Futuriste di "Poesia," 1914), p. 189. 

130 Art 

the exhibit went to the Sackville Gallery, in Sackville Street, London, 
in March 1912. In April/May it was on display at 34a Tiergarten- 
strasse in Berlin, and in September we find it at the De Roos Gallery, 
on the Rokindam, in Amsterdam, whence it moved to the Galerie 
Georges Giroux in Brussels. 

Marinetti continued to propagate his doctrine by means of lec- 
tures. On November 17, 1913, he lectured to Hulme's Poets' 
Club, attacking Baudelaire, Flaubert, Wagner, and claiming H. G. 
Wells as one of his flock. But it was the two lectures Marinetti gave 
at the Dore Gallery in Bond Street the next year, the first on April 
30, 1914, and the second on May 5, that fired Lewis and probably 
put the match to the fuse of Blast, as much as did the British Futur- 
ist manifesto Vital English Art (reproduced in C. R. W. Nevinson's 
Paint and Prejudice). To the second of these lectures Lewis took 
"a determined band of miscellaneous anti-Futurists," including 
Gaudier-Brzeska, Edward Wadsworth, and T. E. Hulme (all big 
men). They heckled Marinetti. Gaudier "put down a tremendous 
barrage in French," while the rest "maintained a confused up- 
roar." As a big drum was being thumped behind the scenes to 
accompany Marinetti's poetry, it must have been a noisy affair, 
but — can we doubt that "the Italian intruder was worsted?" Ford, 
who liked to call himself "Grandfather of the Vorticists," recalls 
this lecture in Thus to Revisit: "Signor Marinetti shouted incredibly 
in the Dore Gallery, and a sanguinary war was declared at the 
Cafe Royal between those youths who wore trousers of green billiard 
cloth and whiskers and those who did not." ^^ 

If Ford embroidered the facts slightly here, he does point up 
that it was this lecture, on May 5, 1914, that touched off Vorticism. 
Blast No. 1 appeared some one and a half months later. On Sep- 
tember 1 8 Marinetti was arrested by the police in Milan for organ- 
izing a Futurist demonstration to try to get Italy to join in the war 
on the side of the Entente. 

30. Ford Madox Ford, Thus to Revisit (London, Chapman and Hall, 1921), p. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 131 

Le Futurisme, which provides a summary of Futurist "thought," 
is miUtant, anti-passeiste (the lovers of the past, passatisti, had been 
torn to shreds in the first manifestoes as well as in sympathetic 
periodicals like Noi and Papini's Lacerba), antiromantic, anti- 
Nietzsche (who admired the past), and definitely committed to 
the introduction of life into art as brutally as possible. As regards 
woman, Marinetti wanted a modern womanhood. Le Futurisme, 
thus, was prosuffragette, unlike Blast which was extremely rude 
to suffragettes. This dynamic view of the artist was simply reiterated 
by Boccioni in his Pittura, scultura futuriste of 1914, a work larded 
with black-type adjurations such as "Tot! . . . Tot! . . . Tot!" 
or the pleasantly Itahanated "Hip! Hip! Hurra!" Indeed, some of 
the earlier Futurist documents may well have been responsible for 
the typographical dynamite of Blast. Boccioni, as a good Futurist, 
was anti-Picasso and anti-Cubist — though claimed as a Cubist by 
Apollinaire in 1913.^^ Of course, there are works by Boccioni, 
Severini, and by Lewis himself which look distinctly Cubist, just as 
Lewis also tried his hand at the multiple-image Futurist picture 
at this time. The Cuban Cubist, Picabia, tried all styles. 

As that sensitive critic Gustave Coquiot, no more friendly to 
Cubism than Boccioni, was quickly aware, however, the Futurists 
criticized themselves. ^^ Even a sympathetic study like Rosa Clough's 
Looking Back at Futurism can really find little to praise in the 
movement as a whole. Lewis himself challenged Futurism on two 
grounds; as he fairly puts it later, "I heartily detested, and had 
violently combated, Marinetti's anti-passeisme, and dynamism." 

James Thrall Soby, analyzing Vorticism, sees it anxious to an- 
nounce the art of the future, but reluctant to break entirely with 
the past.^'*^ This is an accurate analysis. As we read in Blast No. 1, 

31. Guillaume Apollinaire, Les Peintres ciibistes (Paris, Editions "Athena," 
1913), p. 84. 

32. Gustave Coquiot, Ciibistes, futiiristes, passeistes (Paris, Librairie Ollendorff, 
1914), p. 93. 

33. James Thrall Soby, Contemporary Painters (New York, Museum of Modern 
Art, 1948), pp. 115-21. 

132 Art 

"Our vortex is not afraid of the Past: it has forgotten its existence." ^^ 
Although, in several places, Lewis calls for an art to look entirely 
ahead ("The Children of the New Epoch"), he criticized Futurism 
for being too "Presentist" — "The present man in all of us is the 
machine." This is not hard to follow. For Lewis the aesthetic per- 
sonality is part of all time, and his energies arrive from all times 
(he is, in fact, a vortex). The Futurists, then, by overemphasis, were 
disrespectful to the future. Moreover, with their insistence on im- 
mediacy (catching the moment on the hop), they were no more, 
despite their invective to the contrary, than another development 
of Impressionism. So in Blast No. 1, much of which, I cannot help 
feeling, was written with Marinetti looking over Lewis' shoulder, 
figuratively speaking, Futurism is "the latest form of Impressionism." 
He repeats this in The Caliph's Design: "The Futurists, and their 
French followers, have as the basis of their aesthetic the Impres- 
sionists generally . . . Their dogma is a brutal rhetorical Zolaism, 
on its creative side, saturated with the voyou respect and gush about 
Science, the romance of machinery engraven on their florid banner." 
Pound, probably influenced by Lewis here, repeats the criticism 
from Blast No. 1.^^ 

But the "presentist" critique of Futurism is best explained by 
reference to the paintings themselves. Here Balla gives good ex- 
amples, in a work like "Speed of a Car Plus Light and Sounds," 
of what Lewis disliked. Severini's "Blue Dancer," Boccioni's "Dy- 
namism of a Football Player" are others. Balla's painting "Leash 
in Motion" shows a woman walking with her poodle, their feet a 
blur of motion in a multitude of images rather like Duchamp's 
famous "Nude Descending a Staircase," or an instructional picture 
of Bobby Jones playing golf, the golfer's arms shown in every 

34. Blast No. 1, p. 147. In One-Way Song, p. 102, we read, "give me England 
. . . / Give me her Back," in the sense, here, of her past, as opposed to the 
"front" (future). 

35. Ezra Pound, "Vorticism," The Fortnightly Review, N.S., 573 (Sept. 1, 
1914), 461, 468. Gaudier-Brzeska. A Memoir by Ezra Pound (London, John Lane, 
the Bodley Head, 1916), p. 104. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 133 

position gone through during the shot. Russolo's "Plastic Resume 
of a Woman's Movements" is the same. A Futurist sculpture at the 
Turin exhibition actually rolled its eyes. Boccioni's "Muscles in 
Quick Motion" was another similar "plastic ensemble." Lewis ob- 
viously detested this Bergsonian flux (as he must have detested the 
Futurist ideal of tactile values in art), but it was an undeniable in- 
fluence of the time. Epstein confesses that he nearly connected a 
live pneumatic drill to the man in his famous sculpture "The Rock 
Drill" (which Hulme praised so highly ),^^ but discarded the idea 
as too childish. Equally Benda refers to a Futurist painting showing 
a horse in motion having twenty feet and attacks this kind of art 
for assailing the very principle of art, the still absolute, symbol of 
eternity. ^^ 

Benda writes this in his Sur le succes du Bergsonisme, and of 
course this dynamism is just what Bergson calls his "mecanisme 
cinematographique" in UEvolution creatrice — Boccioni frequently 
quotes Bergson with admiration. Lewis is likely to have been 
familiar with this theory, since Bergson was lecturing on it in the 
first years of the century, when Lewis attended the College de 
France lectures. Matter, Bergson here proposes, presents itself to us 
in a constant becoming, and the intellect can best trap it by a series 
of immobile, instantaneous "snapshots": "La methode cinemato- 
graphique est done la seule pratique, puisqu'elle consiste a regler 
Failure generale de la connaissance sur celle de Faction, en at- 
tendant que le detail de chaque acte se regie a son tour sur celui 
de la connaissance." ^^ 

36. T. E. Hulme, "Mr. Epstein and the Critics," The New Age, N.S., 14, No. 8 
(Dec. 25, 1913), 251-3. This issue carries a reproduction of Epstein's drawing for 
"The Rock Drill," a title Yeats misquotes (W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies, New 
York, Macmillan, 1927, p. 348) and Lewis employs in 1951 to compliment Pound 
(Wyndham Lewis, "The Rock Drill," The New Statesman and Nation, 41, No. 
1048, April 7, 1951, 398). 

37. Julien Benda, Sur le succes du Bergsonisme (Paris, Mercure de France, 
1929), pp. 175-6. 

38. Bergson, UEvolution creatrice, p. 332. 

134 Art 

This deplorable view of things, for Lewis, caused Blast No. 1 
to assail Futurism for being mechanical (Bergson having called the 
intellect this). The Futurist aesthetic was amenable to this attack. 
Roger Fry saw the Futurists ("journalists") in this way in 1919.^^ 
But Lewis went further than Fry; Futurism was too excitedly Latin 
in its love of the machine. This was what he called Marinetti's 
"Automobilism." Lewis' point was that there was nothing so very 
new or startling about the machine age for the Englishman. The 
"God- Automobile" was only too obvious a fact; as Blast No. 1 
put it, "Elephants are VERY BIG. Motor cars go quickly." His 
friend, and supporter, Edward Wadsworth, however, loved fast 
motor cars and had special "souped-up" Rolls-Royces built to his 
order, in which I recall traveling with terror as a boy. But England, 
Lewis protested in The New Weekly for June 20, 1914 (the day 
of the first Blast), "practically invented this civilisation that Signor 
Marinetti has come to preach to us about." In his earlier article on 
Marinetti in this same periodical Lewis had written: "As modern 
life is the invention of the English, they should have something 
profounder to say on it than anybody else." Blast firmly reasserted 
this. The Italians had suddenly emerged into the machine age; hence 
their childish excitement over the machine. While the Futurists, 
then, had done much to combat the "deadness and preciosity of the 
artists working in Paris," he wrote in The Caliph's Design, they had 
not assimilated the machine fully into the aesthetic consciousness 
and could not, therefore, make proper use of it in art. 

Although one finds little of interest today in the Futurist gospel, 
it is only fair to point out that Lewis did their aims injustice. Several 
Futurists thought they were classical. Carra specifically welcomed 
Cezanne as a new classicist in Lacerba and in the fourth number of 
La ronda. Rosa Clough shows how anti-Cubist the Futurists were 
(like Lewis). The Futurist critic Soffici, for example, was ap- 
parently incensed by the Cubist claim to be descended from Michel- 

39. Roger Fry, "Fine Arts," The Athenaeum, No. 4658 (Aug. 8, 1919), p. 724. 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 135 

angelo.^^ And in architecture a close comparison might be made 
between Lewis' views and those of Sant' Eha, as he expressed them 
in Lacerba. 

In actual fact, if space were available, a close comparison could 
be made with certain of the group around La ronda in Italy between 
1919 and 1923 and Wyndham Lewis. This group included men 
like Antonio Baldini, Vincenzo Cardarelli, Riccardo Bacchelli, one 
of his few contemporaries admired by Croce and whose early work 
(like La cittd degli amanti or the historical // diavolo al Pontelungo) 
reminds one of Lewis, and Emilio Cecchi, the present encomiast for 
Hemingway (an enthusiasm perhaps anticipated by Cecchi's article 
on Stevenson in La ronda for February 1920). The immediate 
purpose of La ronda was to react against the Voce group, par- 
ticularly as represented at the time by Papini and Prezzolini, for its 
cultivation of latter-day French decadence and its close ties with 

In the second number of La ronda, in fact, Cecchi equates 
Futurism with Bolshevism in a penetrating "Communicazione ac- 
cademica," to most of which Lewis would surely subscribe, and in 
the third issue the same critic writes perspicaciously on Benda, 
especially on U Ordination. I Rondisti, who included Carlo Linati 
(praised by Lewis) translating Yeats and praising Pound (July 
1920), regarded the Voce group as overgrown children, just as 
did Lewis; Cecchi wrote a satire on Futurism. Bacchelli con- 
tributed a note from Paris on Dada ("un male ebraico-rumeno che 
si chiama Dada"), and in an interesting essay called "Classicismo 
pittoresco" in the July 1920 number, Giorgio de Chirico praises 

40. But Boccioni, Pittura, scultura futuriste, pp. 118ff., however, sees the 
Cubists as anti-Impressionist. 

41. A brief survey of these aims may be found as follows: Oreste Munafo, 
"Correnti odierne della letteratura italiana: La reazione rondista," Italica, 29, 
No. 4 (Dec. 1952), 235-44. Meanwhile, amusingly satirical biographies of several 
contributors to La ronda may be turned up between pp. 92 and 98 of the November 
1919 issue. 

136 Art 

the linear in Greek and quattrocento art, while disliking the di- 
sheveled baroque of his home town, Venice. A review of Babbitt's 
Rousseau and Romanticism in this same issue, incidentally, calls 
that author "pieno di sagacita yankee, di intelHgenza nervosa e 
positiva." And so on. In short, the spirit of this brief "riscoperta di 
una civilta italiana autoctona" is filled with as much "neoclas- 
sicismo" as Lewis could desire of the Italians of his time. The dis- 
tinguishing factor of this neoclassicism, however, was that since 
Italian romanticism is largely antiromantic, a conscious return 
to the prebaroque tradition, we find a contemporary antiromantic 
reaction "returning" to the Italian romantics, like Manzoni and 
Leopardi. Thus La ronda rediscovered Zibaldone and through 
Leopardi's reflections on literature regarded the "novecento" as 
something very different from the romantic cliche put forward by 
Lewis and his ilk. 

So it is interesting that for Pound Marinetti is a "corpse" in 
1914, though in 1933 (in an article likening the Duce to Con- 
fucius) Pound supports Futurism. Political considerations clearly 
account for this change of heart. But Lewis, even in the heat of his 
interest in Fascist politics, was never happy with Futurism, con- 
stantly attacking it for being the politics of "action" and unguided 
emotion. "Marinetti's post-nietzschean war-doctrine became War, 
tout court; and then Fascismo, which as Futurism in practice is 
the habit of mind and conditions of war applied to peace." 

How true to form, one feels if one knows I Rondisti, but not 
how quick Lewis was to see this in 1927. And a host of similar refer- 
ences can be found in the twenties. Why then, if he saw through 
Futurism, did he go on to support fascism? I have no answer. 
More recently, Lewis has given us another aesthetic squib, similar 
in form to The Caliph's Design but not nearly so excitingly original 
in matter. In The Demon of Progress in the Arts, put out in 1954 
and running quickly into new printings, we are told that the visual 
arts are today endangered by extremism (defined as "a pathological 
straining after something which boasts of a spectacular aheadof- 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 137 

ness"); that the rapid turnover in industrial trends is being dupli- 
cated in our artistic life; that artistic change, instead of being 
organic, is being artificially stimulated by interested "pundits" (Sir 
Herbert Read represented as "a Mister Abreast-of-the-Times for 
Everyman"); ^^ that the artist's healthy curiosity has turned path- 
ologic and that the artist himself, victim of technology, now only 
enjoys a technical freedom — "he is probably least free when most 
eccentric." ^^ 

There is more that is equally stimulating. When Lewis reports 
an acquaintance complaining that "we have to struggle just as hard 
today to do something . . . well, like painting a recognizable 
portrait ... as formerly we had for years to struggle to be allowed 
to do something 'extremist,' " ^"^ a pertinent comment is made on 
the decline of portrait painting in our time. Lewis cannot feel that 
the "aesthetic excursionist," as he calls the extremist artist today, 
has any real "roots in the sensuous reality," for "whoever is able 
to create upon a canvas or a piece of paper a human figure con- 
taining the reality of life ... is not likely to go off and satisfy 
himself by drawing with a ruler a lot of strips upon a canvas or 
paper." There is a section on the Salvationist solemnity with which 
Americans dignify extreme art, and a dig at the Museum of Modern 
Art here recalls America, I Presume. The work ends with a dis- 
cussion of Malraux, who Lewis thinks neglects the effects of the 
industrial revolution on art for certain political considerations. But 
The Demon of Progress in the Arts is disappointing. There is a 
weary exasperation that soon makes this squib fizzle out. The com- 
parative analysis provided with the art of the cinematograph, a 
corporate endeavor, is wholly unsatisfactory, and is it true, one asks 
oneself, that "most painters have always come from working-class 

42. Wyndham Lewis, The Demon of Progress in the Arts (London, Methuen, 
1954), p. 50. 

43. For Selden Rodman, in his subsequent The Eye of Man (New York, Devin- 
Adair, 1955), the extremist painter is also in this danger: "The more an artist 
strives for originality the less original he becomes." 

44. Demon of Progress, p. 40. 

138 Art 

families"? On the other hand, Lewis might here for once have 
strengthened his main case: the impermanence of much modern 
extreme painting would have done so, as would a realization that 
the "pundits" of today are responsible for extremism (if they are) 
because yesterday they were guilty of the reverse. Here a frustrated 
Lewis — for this pamphlet was written when he was blind — sees art 
on the verge of an "insane zero," a "clownish suicide," or "a nihilistic 
nothingness." ^^ 

The weakness of Lewis' art criticism as a whole is chiefly its 
(deliberate?) unfairness to Cubism — from which, after all, so much 
of his own art derives. Unlike Vorticism, Cubism had no organized 
mystique — indeed, boasted of its freedom from such, despite Lewis' 
imputation of "dogma" to Cubists — and its exponents were painters 
rather than writers. What is more, not only did it anticipate Vorticism 
by some years (Apollinaire dating the nomenclature from a de- 
risive reference by Matisse in 1908) but it went on for some years, 
as we well know, and cannot easily be categorized. Like all vital 
art movements, it resists classification. However there are a few 
works, from practitioners and sympathizers, which do give us a gen- 
eral contemporary view of the movement's aims. These include Du 
"Cubisme" by Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, Robert Delaunay's 
notebooks, and Apollinaire's Les Peintres cubist es: Meditations 
esthetiques, as well as Apollinaire's statements in the two erratic 
reviews of the period, Montjoie and Les Soirees de Paris. 

Needless to say, ApoHinaire, friend of so many of the Cubist 
painters assembled in their special room in the 1911 Salon des 
Independants, is a poetic rather than academic critic. Moreover, 
Apollinaire's view of nature in analyzing this painting was not held 
by all the painters themselves, least of all by Fern and Leger during 
his Cubist period. Here ApoHinaire is in reaction to nineteenth- 
century pantheism — "trop d'artistes-peintres adorent encore les 

45. Ibid., p. 33, and passim. Sir Herbert Read may be seen, by the way, tem- 
perately disliking Benda in the Introduction to his anthology The English Vision 
(London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1933). 

Lyrical Enthusiasm about Defeat 139 

plantes, les pierres, Fonde ou les hommes." ^^ The last word is 
challenging, but Apollinaire was clearly fascinated in this work 
with Einsteinian space and the fourth dimension. Answering the 
charges already made by this time against the overgeometric nature 
of Cubism, Apollinaire asserts that while the Greeks took man as 
the measure of perfection, the new art was to take the universe as 
such. But both Apollinaire and Gleizes agree that Cubism, far from 
presenting a given moment (as Lewis said), actually aims to create 
a moment of stasis into which is poured a series of unknown 
moments, from past, present, and future. And both men see Cubism 
as anti-Impressionist, though Gleizes goes further here than Apol- 
linaire. As a good Frenchman Gleizes is ready to pay his respects to 
Impressionism, but he begins his study with criticism of Impres- 
sionism for its lack of formal qualities and for what Lewis largely 
criticized in the movement: "L'art des Impressionistes comporte 
un non-sens : par la diversite de la couleur il tache a creer de la vie, 
et il propage un dessin veule et nul. La robe chatoie, merveilleuse; 
les formes disparaissent, atrophiees." "^^ 

Further, Gleizes has the same high praise for Cezanne as has 
Lewis, he likes the art of ancient China as much as Lewis, he 
emphasizes "esprit" and "volonte," space and the surface plane, 
and he detests "la foule" in a way to which Lewis could not take 
exception. Apollinaire, while critical of le douanier Rousseau, 
admires this painter's "ordre," mentions the art of Egyptian mum- 
mification with obvious interest, and claims that the new painters 
he is considering as Cubists are "plus cerebrales que sensuelles." 
Apollinaire, too, has the Futurists looking over his shoulder: "Nous 
n'errerons point dans I'avenir inconnu, qui separe de I'eternite n'est 
qu'un mot destine a tenter I'homme." "^^ 

As he shows in his poem "La Jolie Rousse," Apollinaire was 

46. Apollinaire, Peintres cubistes, p. 6. 

47. Albert Gleizes et Jean Metzinger, Dii "Ciibisme" (Paris, Eugene Figuiere, 
1912), p. 8. 

48. Apollinaire, Peintres cubistes, p. 8. 

140 Art 

clearly looking ahead, and welcomed painters like Le Fauconnier, 
Andre Salmon, Georges Deniker, and Jacques Villon, but he still 
sees great art as a meeting place of periods and movements. 

If Lewis' art criticism is at times unfair, it is always lively. The 
progress of this demon in the arts is inevitably entertaining to 
observe. The same may be said, of course, for his political criticism. 
Yet here one has the pleasant task of referring to the series of 
reviews Lewis wrote as art critic for The Listener between 1946 and 
1951, before blindness overtook him. On the v/hole these reviews, 
although eclectic, are tolerant and kind; at times, however, as in 
his praise for the work of Michael Ayrton, he is still wholly in- 
terested, and the note of propaganda spoils some of his writing on 
the lesser English realists. Still these reviews caused even Clement 
Greenberg, who holds no brief for Lewis and thinks Sir Herbert 
Read "an incompetent art critic," to call Lewis "a superb one." ^^ 
In any case, even if one is totally opposed to this art criticism, one 
cannot ignore it, as one can safely ignore the political "thinking"; 
the former is always a bracing tonic. 

49. Clement Greenberg, "Polemic against Modern Art" [Review of The Demon 
of Progress in the Arts], The New Leader, 38, No. 49 (Dec. 12, 1955), 28. 

Chapter 8: The Puce Monster 

"Such things as Blast have to be undertaken for the artist to exist at 
all. When you have removed all that is necessarily strident, much 
sound art-doctrine is to be found in this puce monster." [To Lord Car- 
low, with a copy of Blast No. 1.] 

On February 21, 1912, Roger Fry invited Lewis to join his 
Omega Workshops; in December of this year we find Lewis still 
exhibiting with the relatively conservative Camden Town Group 
at the Carfax Gallery. In the autumn of 1913 he broke with Fry 
and founded his own Rebel Art Centre with Kate Lechmere at 38 
Great Ormond Street, off Queen's Street, London W.C. This center 
united principally the following artists: Frederick Etchells, Cuthbert 
Hamilton, Edward Wadsworth (later to help Lewis financially), 
Charles Nevinson, and Lewis himself. According to Virginia Woolf 
the Omega opened in July 1913, and the reason why Lewis broke 
from it is given in a letter, signed by Etchells, Hamilton, Wads- 
worth, and Lewis, alleging that "the Direction of the Omega Work- 
shops" had secured a commission "by a shabby trick, and at the 
expense of one of their members — Mr. Wyndham Lewis." Fry 
retorted by accusing Lewis of "vindictive jealousy." ^ 

Lewis was at this time asserting his individuality in a series of 
mural paintings. He decorated Ford's study, and several private 
houses, as well as the walls of his own center. His famous "Cubist 
Room" done for the Countess of Drogheda's London house, at 

1. Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, an Autobiography (London, Hogarth Press, 
1940), pp. 192, 194. The account Lewis himself gives visitors of this break with 
Fry is put, with an almost touching credulity, in John Rothenstein, Modern Eng- 
lish Painters (New York, Macmillan, 1956), p. 26. 

142 Art 

40 Wilton Crescent, with its jet ceiling, ebony chimney glass, and 
Vorticist mirrors, was opened to an astonished public. Violet Hunt 
has described Lewis' Rebel Art Centre alleging that Lewis even 
advised the faithful on how to dress. The most spectacular of all 
his murals, however, were for the nightclub called the Cave of the 
Golden Calf, owned by Madame Strindberg ( Strindberg's third 
wife), later to be the Cabaret Club in Beak Street. Here, the ceiling 
supported by Epstein columns, the walls (as Sir Osbert Sitwell puts 
it) "hideously but relevantly frescoed" - by Lewis, were danced what 
Edgar Jepson calls "Vorticist dances." Jepson, to whom Ford 
dedicated The Marsden Case with its almost certain description of 
this "pink cell" of a nightclub, tells us that "not only could you 
dance there those obsolete Vorticist dances, the Turkey Trot and 
the Bunny Hug, but between the dances you could observe violent, 
Vorticist assaults on the drama." ^ 

The program for one evening at the Cave I saw included Margaret 
Morris and her "Greek Children Dancers," a veil dance, and "A 
Breton Wake." 

Violet Hunt was reminded of "raw meat" by Lewis' murals here, 
and she goes on to describe them in a passage that strongly recalls 
the description of the "Wheelwright's Yard" in The Enemy of the 
Stars: "Bismarckian images, severings, disembowellings, mixed pell- 
mell with the iron shards that did it, splashed with the pale blood 
of exhausted heroes." ^ 

Both Aldington and Ford mention the Cave affectionately in 
their memoirs, as does Augustus John (who has described Madame 
Strindberg with gusto). Pound, who was living at this time at 5 
Holland Place Chambers, in Church Street, Kensington, complains 
in November 1913 that a "bloody guardsman" had removed his hat 
from the cloakroom there. And of course Imagism ran beside 
Vorticism, Pound linking the two in The Fortnightly Review for 

2. Sir Osbert Sitwell, Great Morning (London, Macmillan, 1948), p. 208. 

3. Edgar Jepson, Memories of an Edwardian and Neo-Georgian (London, Rich- 
ards, 1937), p. 155. 

4. Violet Hunt, / Have This to Say (New York, Boni and Liveright, 1926), p. 
267. Enemy of the Stars, p. 6. The Wheelwright is Arghol's uncle. 

The Puce Monster 143 

September 1, 1914. Possibly the Cave was not entirely innocent 
of the influence of the "ideisme" of the celebrated Valentine de 
Saint-Point, whose strange dances, accompanied by geometric 
shadows thrown on a screen, had been a feature of Paris nightclubs 
in 1908 and 1909. But it was here, chez the Golden Calf, so Violet 
Hunt alleges, that the Rebel Art Centre held its evenings, the 
invitation for one of them reading, "The Manifesto of Rebel Art 
will be read to the sound of carefully chosen trumpets." 

In early 1914 Etchells, Hamilton, Wadsworth, Nevinson, Lewis, 
and Epstein exhibited together, constituting the Blast group. Lewis 
described the group in The Egoist as "a vertigineous but not exotic 
island, in the placid and respectable archipelago of English art. This 
formation is undeniably of volcanic matter . . . The work of this 
group of artists for the most part underlines such geometric bases 
and structure of life, and they would spend their energies rather in 
showing a different skeleton and abstraction than formerly could 
exist than a different degree of hairiness or dress." ^ Both Lewis 
and Aldington say that Pound invented the word "Vorticist" for 
this movement, and Pound tells John Henry Quinn this, in a letter 
dated March 10, 1916, where he writes enthusiastically of Lewis' 
art to this future collector: "The vitality, the fullness of the man 
. . . Nobody has any conception of the volume and energy and 
the variety ... It is not merely knowledge of technique, or 
skill, it is inteUigence and knowledge of life, of the whole of it, 
beauty, heaven, hell, sarcasm, every kind of whirlwind of force 
and emotion. Vortex. That is the right word, if I did find it my- 
self." ^ Gaudier-Brzeska, who shared Pound's enthusiasm for Lewis' 
work, is also joined in print with this group. John Cournos, how- 
ever, places Gaudier outside the movement in a letter to Horace 
Brodzky; ^ but Pound contests this. However this may be, it is 

5. Wyndham Lewis, "The Cubist Room," The Egoist, 1, No. 1 (Jan. 1, 1914), 9. 

6. Letters of Ezra Pound, p. 74. Cf. for similar enthusiasm, Pound, Pavannes 
and Divisions, pp. 109, 110, 148, 245, 246, 250, 251, 254. 

7. Quoted, Horace Brodzky, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 1891-1915 (London, Faber 
and Faber, 1933), p. 166. 


144 Art 

obvious that Gaudier's sympathies (e.g. his love of the art of ancient 
China) place him alongside Lewis. Hugh Ross WilUamson classes 
Gaudier as definitely "of the Greeks." ^ 

Writing to Amy Lowell, Pound now says that the Blast dinner 
(which Gaudier attended) is to be held on July 15, 1 914. In Gaudier- 
Brzeska. A Memoir he writes that it was originally intended for 
the 7th, but on Wednesday, July 15, the Blast dinner was held at the 
Dieudonne Restaurant in Ryder Street, St. James's — a restaurant 
name (taken from the famous chef, Dieudonet) to reverberate 
through Pound's Pisan Cantos.^ One trusts that it did not resemble 
a Futurist dinner ("We throw the table over ... toe toe toe toe 
toe toe toe . . . He vomits. They vomit. They laugh" ^^), but it 
seems to have been a lavish affair for in the Carlow Collection there 
is an invitation card on which a characteristically practical Lewis 
has worked out the large costs for himself. 

In fact there were several Blast dinners, some of them, according 
to Goldring, being held at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Percy 
Street (for which Lewis had also executed murals ),^^ the restaurant 
that had seen Hulme's Poets Club dine in dinner jackets in 1908.^^ 
The Carlow Collection also contains an invitation to a "Vorticist 
evening" for February 23, 1916. But the Blast dinner was that of 
July 15, 1914, when what Pound called "the great MAGENTA 
cover'd oposculus" had burst on the literary and artistic scene. 

Blast No. 7,12a ^i^^ ^ p^g^ ^j.g^ Qf 12" X 9y2" and the title 
angled to resemble lightning across the cover, appeared not long be- 

8. Hugh Ross Williamson, "Portrait of an Artist," The Bookman, 80, No. 477 
(June 1931), 153-5. 

9. Glenn Hughes miscalls this restaurant the Dieu Donnes, and seems to con- 
fuse the date of the Vorticist dinner. Glenn Hughes, Imagism and the Imagists 
(Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1931), p. 36. 

10. Marinetti, as quoted in Rosa Trillo Clough, Looking Back at Futurism 
(New York, Cocce Press, 1942), pp. 167-8. 

11. Goldring, South Lodge, p. 70. Peter Keenan claims a hand in these murals. 

12. Ezra Pound, Polite Essays (London, Faber and Faber, 1937), p. 8. Flint 
assailed the pompous dress of this Poets' Club in The New Age. 

12a. A name suggested by C. R. W. Nevinson (if we are to believe Paint and 

The Puce Monster 145 

fore the outbreak of war and announced the necessarily short-lived 
Great English Vortex. To some extent, as Lewis tells us in Time 
and Western Man, it was aimed at the Royal Academy and thus 
continued, if it accelerated, the spirit of the New English Art Club. 
In 1914 also Pound was proposing his College of Arts, with Lewis 
on its "faculty," for the spreading of this new gospel. In March 
1915 (not June or May as per Sir John Rothenstein and the Tate 
Gallery respectively) a Vorticist exhibition was held at the Dore 
Gallery and included paintings or drawings by Wads worth, Lewis, 
Charles Nevinson (who was to be dropped for being too "Futurist," 
according to Peter Keenan),^^ and William Roberts, as well as 
sculpture by Jacob Kramer, Gaudier-Brzeska, and Epstein (who 
showed "The Rock Drill") . In July of this year the second, and only 
subsequent, issue of Blast appeared, its color changed from the 
sanguinary puce of the first number because, as Lev/is explained, too 
much liquid of that hue was being shed at the time — "BLAST finds 
itself surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts." In 1933 a short- 
lived periodical of this name started in New York, publishing Wil- 
liam Carlos WilHams among others, while in 1954 H. M. McLuhan 
produced Counterblast from Canada. In 1956, during the Vorticist 
exhibition at the Tate, William Roberts produced in an acerb pam- 
phlet what may well be the final blast, namely "Blast Vorticism!" 
This pamphlet is an attack on Lewis for arrogating to himself so 
much of the space in the Tate exhibition and for making such large 
claims for himself so long after the event. 

The principal feature of the first publications was the series 
of "blasts" and "blesses" they contained, probably suggested by 
the fifty-seventh of Blake's Proverbs of Hell, "Damn braces. Bless 
relaxes." Although Lewis has since told us that he looked on the 
inclusion of Imagists in his Vorticist organ as ''pompier," the 
manifestoes of No. 1 were signed by R. Aldington, Arbuthnott, 
L. Atkinson, Gaudier-Brzeska, J. Dismorr, C. Hamilton, Pound, 

13. Peter Keenan, "Memories of Vorticism," The New Hope, 2, No. 6 (Oct. 
1934), 6. 


146 Art 

W. Roberts, H. Sanders, E. Wadsworth, and Lewis himself. Ford 
had prose in the first number, poetry in the second. Rebecca West 
contributed a story to No. 1, while Eliot had some unindexed poetry 
in No. 2. Lewis himself has explained that the "blasts" were anti- 
Victorian and proclassical (if we allow "classical" to carry those 
referents I shall align for him below under this head) : " 'Bless the 
Hairdresser' . . . exalts formality, and order, at the expense of 
the disorderly and the unkempt. It is merely a humorous way of 
stating the classic standpoint, as against the romantic." ^^ 

Critics have liked to approach the "blasts" in this way, suggesting 
that those elements which curb nature are chiefly praised. Tindall 
puts this view in his Forces in Modern British Literature, 1885- 
1946. Certainly this classical restraint is the context Pound imposes 
on the period later, in Pisan Cantos: 

in whom are the voices, keeping hand on the reins 
Gaudier's word not blacked out 

nor old Hulme's, nor Wyndham's.^^ 

Up to a point this interpretation seems satisfactory, but it should 
not of course be taken as a cut-and-dried explanation. No. 1 
for instance, blesses castor oil and the Pope, both of whom pre- 
sumably curb nature, but Madame Strindberg and Kate Lechmere, 
who perhaps did less to keep their hands on the reins, are blessed. 
The sea is blessed, as well as things of the sea, throughout both 
issues. Moreover, No. 2 blasts "birth-control," which certainly 
curbs nature. Perhaps the answer to these objections is to be found 
in Goldring's South Lodge where we read that the list of "blasts" 
and "blesses" was drawn up at a prepublication tea party held 
in Lewis' studio in Fitzroy Street. Goldring alleges that the blessed 
were often simply the friends of contributors, especially of Ford. 
This might account for the Catholic tinge, Ford being a "Roman." 

14. Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 43. 

15. Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos (Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1948), p. 

The Puce Monster 147 

The blasted, Goldring goes on, were mainly leading figures or things 
outliving their publicity. Violet Hunt adds the information that some 
of these names were deliberately misspelt. ^^ Thus No. 1 blesses 
"Bearline" (Henry Baerlein). The blessing of the sea I attribute to 
two sources; first, Edward Wadsworth, who went into the navy 
in the first World War, and later decorated the "Queen Mary," 
had a great love of the sea, and a volume he illustrated for Etchells 
in 1926^'^ shows the accurate and detailed knowledge of saiHng 
ships he possessed; second, there was the patriotic element of the 
movement. So Lewis writes in the prologue to The Egoist Ltd. Tarr: 
"we should long ago have been swamped had it not been for the sea. 
The habits and vitality of the seaman's life and this vigorous element 
have protected us intellectually as the blue water has politically." 
In general, Aldington's contemporary review of Blast No. 1 
still seems one of the best. It was a periodical. Aldington wrote 
in The Egoist, "in which the distressing and cow-like qualities of 
the nation are successfully blasted, and the admirable, unique and 
dominating characteristics piously blessed." ^^ For there is nothing 
complicated about the Vorticist desire to liberate English art from 
Victorian sentimentaHsm : "We do not want the GLOOMY VIC- 
TORIAN CIRCUS in Piccadilly Circus." Blast No. 1 aimed, Harriet 
Monroe writes, "to blow away, in thick black capitals half an inch 
high, the Victorian Vampire." ^^ In // This Be Treason Pound says 
that it marked "the end of XlXth. century unsurocracy and mer- 
cantihsm." ^^ But while the Vorticists stood for emancipation from 
the English past, they considered that similar sentimentality could 
result from being Futurist — "We stand for the Reality of the Present 

16. Hunt, / Have This to Say, p. 215 (where she adds a further misspelling her- 

17. Edward Wadsworth, S ailing-Ships and Barges of the Western Mediterranean 
and Adriatic Seas (London, Frederick Etchells and Hugh MacDonald, 1926). 

18. Richard Aldington, "Blast," The Egoist, 1, No. 14 (July 15, 1914), 272. 

19. Harriet Monroe, A Poet's Life (New York, Macmillan, 1938), p. 355. 

20. Ezra Pound, // This Be Treason (Siena, privately printed for Olga Rudge, 
1948), p. 30. 

148 Art 

— not for the sentimental Future." If this would seem to conflict with 
Lewis' "presentist" critique of Futurism, it does not really do so: 

Life is the Past and the Future. 
The Present is Art. 

Vortex was a rushing together of ages and art forms, "this strange 
synthesis of cultures and times," as Lewis called it in 1929, "the 
first projection of a world art." ^^ Violet Hunt tells us that Lewis 
said to her at this time: "You think at once of a whirlpool. At the 
heart of the whirlpool is a great silent place where all the energy 
is concentrated. And there, at the point of concentration, is the 
Vorticist." ^^ At this still center, both of the fluxes of life and of 
the concatenation of artistic periods, is what Pound calls the "point 
of maximum energy." The artistic v/iU presides at this heroic place. 
''IT IS THE VORTEX OF WILL," declaims Gaudier, as he 
promises to "present my emotions by the arrangement of my 
SURFACES." Lewis repeats this emphasis on will, in Blast No. 2, 
and the last words of the first issue hurl the claim at us: 

Will and Consciousness are our 


This emphasis on energy and vitality, which was reinforced by 
the rhetorical vigor of the typography, was in direct opposition 
both to Royal Academicism and Cubist studio art. For Pound, in 
No. 1, Vorticism is "the most highly energized statement," while 
Gaudier seems to scream at us "vortex is energy!" But al- 
though Wadsworth retained this emphasis in his Unit One period 
in the thirties (as in his conversation, also, with Eric Newton in 
The Listener for March 20, 1935), and although Gaudier repeats 
it in his notebooks, I suspect that it was principally for Lewis a 
premise that all this energy should be solely intellectual energy. 

21. Wyndham Lewis, "A World Art and Tradition," Drawing and Design, 5, 
No. 32 (Feb. 1929), 56. 

22. Hunt, / Have This to Say, p. 211. 

The Puce Monster 149 

"Action" is a word Lewis always associates with emotion, and the 
first cardinal point of the Blast manifestoes was, "Beyond Action 
and Reaction we would establish ourselves." He repeats this in 
No. 2: "Our point is that he [the Vorticist] cannot have to the 
full the excellent and efficient qualities we admire in the man of 
action unless he eschews action and sticks hard to thought." 

For Lewis, the energy concentrated in the center of this whirl- 
pool is artistic (or, for him, intellectual) activity. And it is to be 
aimed at trapping "some essential," to get to "the essential truth." 
Pound, in his article in The Fortnightly Review, agrees: the em- 
phasis, he repeats, is on ''primary form" rather than on "second 
intensity": "Vorticism is art before it has spread itself into flaccidity, 
into elaborations and secondary applications." And he goes on: 
"The image is not an idea. It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what 
I can, and must perforce, call a vortex, from which, and through 
which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing." In his "ideo- 
grammic" method Pound is in the same revolt against Impres- 
sionism in the arts. Neither Pound nor Lewis wants EinfUhlung. 
Pound (whom Gilbert Highet calls "a silly poseur and a third-rate 
poet") is looking for what he tells us in Guide to Kulchur Con- 
fucius demanded, "a type of perception, a kind of transmission of 
knowledge obtainable only from such concrete manifestation." ^^ 
And in his memoir of Gaudier-Brezeska, where Hugh Kenner rightly 
observes that "the whole of Pound is present in embryo," -^ it is 
"intellect" Pound admires in "the men of 1914." 

"The Siberia of the Mind," as Blast No. 1 called England, does 
not seem to have been unduly disturbed by Vorticism. After all, 
London had had some three years of Marinetti, on and off, by now; 
and indeed, reviewing No. 1, The Times seems glad that it is a 
healthier movement than Futurism.-^ How much, then, was this art 
movement worth? 

23. Pound sometimes spells "ideogrammic" with one m. 

24. Hugh Kenner, The Poetry of Ezra Pound (London, Faber and Faber, 1951), 
p. 58. 

25. "Blast," The Times, No. 40,564 (July 1, 1914), p. 8. 

150 Art 

Some Vorticist apologists, usually to be found outside England, 
make extravagant claims for the blasters. Hugh Kenner beUeves 
that Vorticism was "the only time since 1600 — when a congeries 
of masters was doing things in EngHsh that had not been done better 
on the continent." ^^ Another critic, Av Teddy Brunius, has been 
equally enthusiastic, writing from Sweden. ^"^ To my mind Thrall 
Soby presents the most balanced view, and one which Lewis him- 
self would not contest, namely that Vorticism was a liberating 
influence of great consequence for England, throwing English paint- 
ing into the main stream of advanced European art, but it was far 
from an exact discipline. 

The first part of this judgment was exactly what Lewis himself 
stated in The Tyro No. 1 ("Roger Fry's Role of Continental Medi- 
ator") and in The Dial for the same year, 1921. Later, in his auto- 
biographical volumes, Lewis restated his complaint of the English 
facility for accepting the ecole de Paris as superior to English art. 
One should not underestimate Lewis' contribution in this respect. 
Only by looking at what there was in England before he staged 
his Vortex can one see his achievement here. Looking back on the 
period, Paul Nash tells us that in the spring of 1913, despite Fry's 
efforts, "the doctrine and practice of the New English Art Club 
represented all that was most typical of modern art in England." ^^ 
Despite the fact that a few advanced artists like Roberts, Wads- 
worth, and Lewis himself showed with this Club before 1914, 
Lewis realized that it had fossilized. The New English Art Club 
began in the Marlborough Gallery in 1886 as a protest against 
Royal Academicism, and Whistler was a member of its first selection 
committee. It showed Sargent, Wilson Steer, and Sir William Orpen, 

26. Hugh Kenner, "Remember That I Have Remembered," The Hudson Review, 
3, No. 4 (Winter 1951), 603. 

27. Av Teddy Brunius, Pionjdrer och Fullfoljare i Modern Engelsk Konst, Lyrik 
och Kritik (Stockholm, Natur och Kultur, 1952), pp. 17, 18, 27, 28, 30, 40, 57, 
71,75,89, 126. 

28. Paul Nash, Outline (London, Faber and Faber, 1949), p. 166. There is also 
an interesting article on Post-Impressionism and Futurism by H. E. Bates in The 
Calcutta Review for January 1916. 

The Puce Monster 151 

among others, and was for George Moore, in his Modern Painting 
of 1900, a go-ahead institution. But by the time of Blast its member- 
ship was chiefly academic, and it was the outlet for painters like 
Muirhead Bone, Conder, the sadly overestimated Sickert, and 
Harold Gilman (whom, however, Lewis admired), rather than for 
really creative and experimental art. By the nineteen twenties the 
juries for its exhibitions read like catalogues announcing the Slade 
School faculty — Henry Tonks, Randolph Schwabe, William Roth- 
enstein, D. S. MacColl — and the dead hand had fallen. 

Secondly, Lewis never claimed that Vortex was an exact dis- 
cipline. It was a necessary interim. It "hustled the cultural Britannia, 
stepping up that cautious pace with which she prefers to advance." 
And Britannia was certainly goosed up the gangplank to Modern 
Art. Clive Bell detested Vortex. Pound's "primary form" was here 
of chief consequence. For, as Lewis pointed out in 1939, Vorticism 
sought forms directly expressive of vigor. Instead of sentimentalizing 
the machine, like the Futurists, Vortex went straight to the static 
("the hard, the cold") spirit of the machine. Instead of worshiping 
the machine in flux. Vortex dominated the machine, by seeking its 
conceptual form. In The Diabolical Principle Lewis writes that we 
live in an age when "machinery went straight to nature and elimi- 
nated the middleman, Man." Thus the machine represented to the 
Vorticists the "form" of certain qualities, usually the principle of 
energy. A motorcar was a quintessence of energy, or speed, for the 
sake of which natural or quasi-natural elements (steel, glass, rub- 
ber, and so on) had been abstracted to make a functional form, 
and a form in which emotional subjectivity, Einfiihlung, was mini- 
mal. The purely functional machine, Lewis wrote in The Art of 
Being Ruled, comes close to artistic abstraction. Later, in the 
section of One-Way Song called "Engine Fight-Talk," he satirizes 
these ideas as having gone too far in the thirties. Possibly these 
views persist today in the younger realist painters, like Michael 
Ayrton or Colleen Browning, who enjoy affirming the line instead 
of dissipating it (like the American "action" painters) in their art. 
But they persist more obviously, surely, in functional architecture; 

152 Art 

and, writing in The Architectural Review in 1934, Lewis admits 
that Vorticism was "a substitution of architecture for painting." ^^ 
On the whole, however, as Lewis later wrote, Vorticism had only 
time to be a program. There are letters — especially some to Mc- 
Knight Kauffer in 1919 concerning the formation of the "X" Group 
of artists then — that show Lewis did not regard it as more at the 
time. Amusingly enough, it has found its place, in delineating a 
period, in several novels. In Antic Hay (which is mentioned in 
The Red Priest), for instance, Theodore Gumbril Junior dreams 
of owning a Lewis drawing, and one suspects that Lypiatt, with 
"a face that ought by rights to have belonged to a man of genius," 
is a cruel parody of Lewis himself. (At Lypiatt's exhibition Mr. 
Mercaptan says the word Argal, possibly a variant through the 
grave-digger in Hamlet of Arghol. ) In Waugh's Vile Bodies Johnnie 
Hoop designs his invitations Hke Blast manifestoes, while at the 
end of Lady Chatterley's Lover Duncan Forbes shows his Vorticist 
paintings to Mellors ("They show a lot of self-pity and an awful 
lot of nervous self-opinion, seems to me," Mellors remarks ).^^ More 
recently, Angus Wilson's Anglo-Saxon Attitudes concerns itself 
with a scholar who was supposedly a friend of Lewis; here "a 
graduate of Minnesota University and North- Western University" 
is preparing a thesis on "The Intellectual Climate of England at 
the Outbreak of the First World War," most of which is to be 
devoted to D. H. Lawrence and Wyndham Lewis. If Vorticism, 
then, is regarded as a stimulant (and a much-needed one) rather 
than as a logical aesthetic, it has its place in the history of English 
art. And to round out this sketch of "Lewis (Pictor)," as he liked 
to call himself to Lord Carlow, it is interesting to glance at the recep- 
tion accorded his art by T. E. Hulme. 

29. Wyndham Lewis, "Plain Home-builder: Where Is Your Vorticist?" The 
Architectural Review: A Magazine of Architecture and Decoration, 76, No. 456 
(Nov. 1934), 156. 

30. David Garnett, from a larger authority than my own, believes that Duncan 
Grant was here the model for Duncan Forbes. David Garnett, The Flowers of 
the Forest (London, Chatto and Windus, 1955), p. 37. 

Chapter 9: The Intelligent Few 

"Art always has been, and within limits must remain, the monopoly of 
the intelligent few." ["The Credentials of the Painter — 2," The English 
Review, 34 (April, 1922), 394.] 

Lewis has admitted that he saw Hulme as his mentor in art. What 
did Hulme have to say about Lewis' painting? First, we must agree 
that Hulme saw two different types of art, broadly corresponding 
to two different types of civilization. In fact, I have often thought 
it wiser to direct newcomers to Hulme to his art criticism before 
his philosophy of history, for Hulme was to my mind a sensitive 
art critic — he understood at once the most advanced movements 
of his day — with a bigoted Weltanschauung in rationalization of his 
cultural beliefs. So, when in Speculations Hulme tells us he is giving 
us Worringer's cultural periods, the reader should not take him 
at his own word; actually Hulme simplifies Worringer's cultural 
periods, reducing them arbitrarily. 

Worringer, who is in turn indebted to Lipps (on whom Hulme 
was composing a book before he was killed) , suggested three kinds of 
aesthetic man — "Der primitive Mensch," "Der klassische Mensch," 
and "Der orientalische Mensch," — all prior to the modern period 
which he broadly defines as Gothic (though his reader should 
jettison any of the usual referents for this word). For Worringer, 
the first of these categories, primitive man, lived in a state of dual- 
ism with the natural world, and his art was an abstraction or call 
to absolute values in a shifting and incomprehensible universe. For 
this primitive man, art, Worringer suggested, was avoidance of 
life and resentment of nature. He is the perfect antipantheist. As 

154 Art 

Worringer puts it: "Vom Leben verwirrt und geangstigt, sucht er 
das Leblose, well aus ihm die Unruhe des Werdens eliminiert und 
eine dauernde Festigkeit geschaffen ist. Kiinstlerisch schaffen heisst 
fiir ihn, dem Leben und seiner Willkiir auszuweichen . . . Von der 
starren Linie in ihrer lebensfremden abstrakten Wesenheit geht 
er aus." ^ 

The rigid line — "starr" and "Starrheit" are words that are used 
constantly in this connection by Worringer — is the primitive's 
reduction to order. For Worringer this attempt to stabiUze the world 
outside reached its high point in Oriental man. With the arrival 
of classical man on the scene, man and his world tend to unite 
harmoniously. No longer tortured by perception, no longer at odds 
with nature, classical man — wretch that he so obviously was for 
Worringer! — actually begins to enjoy life and, in his art, to idealize 
nature. It is at this point that Einfuhlung enters into art appreciation. 

It is in Abstraktion und Einfuhlung that Worringer clarifies 
Einfuhlung, which both Hulme and Sir Herbert Read translate as 
"empathy" ("imaginative projection of one's ovv^n consciousness into 
another being," according to Webster). Einfuhlung is the enjoyable 
projection of the consciousness into a work of art, the consequent 
recognition of one's own emotions in it, and the general feeling 
of elation at such recognition — "Selbstgenuss." ^ It is, in other 
words, the way most people approach a painting today. Abstraktion is 
the reverse process, a withdrawal to calm and order, "Selbstentaus- 
serungstrieb." ^ For both Worringer and Lewis the art of Abstraktion 
reaches its high watermark in Oriental man. For Hulme it seems 
to be at its best in Byzantine art. This Oriental is closer to the 
primitive than is Hellenic man. To some extent he still has the 
primitive's dislike of "Hfe," but with the difference that he is con- 
tented with (rather than fearful of) the state of dualism, since he 

1. V^orringer, Formprobleme, p. 16. 

2. Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraktion und Einfuhlung (Munchen, Piper, 1948), 
pp. 17-26. 

3. Ibid., pp. 27-37. 

The Intelligent Few 155 

has a transcendental, instead of immanent, view of the universe. 
For this Orieix'al man there is an exalted destiny, and the super- 
natural sources of life are admirable rather than horrible. In Oriental 
man the primitive's terror of nature is raised to respect and he feels 
humility before the eternal forces.^ 

This condition, so close to Lewis' own views stated in Chapter 6, 
produces not only abstract art but great abstract art, an art sharply 
outlined and wedded to the hard line: "Wie die Kunst des Urmen- 
schen ist auch die Kunst des Orients streng abstrakt und gebunden 
an die starre ausdrucklose Linie und ihr Korrelat, die Flache." 

This division, between Abstraktion and Einfuhlung, is the ap- 
plication Hulme puts on contemporary art in The New Age. So 
on January 15, 1914, Hulme finds "a new constructive geometric 
art," and singles out Lewis, Etchells, and Nevinson as its practi- 
tioners, welcome correctives to Roger Fry's post-Impressionism. 
Hulme now reacts quickly to what he sees. In his next article he 
elaborates the two kinds of art he finds before him, one "geometrical 
and abstract," the other "vital and realistic." Hulme here uses the 
word "vital" in a special sense, a "vital" art being not one filled 
with vitality in our usual use of the term but an art that takes 
pleasure in the reproduction of natural things (Einfuhlung) .^ Hulme 
then goes on to object to the thesis, which he later (like Lewis) 
partially concedes, that extreme abstraction becomes academic, a 
mere mannerism. Granted, he continues, that the "vital and realistic" 
artists always need contact with the natural world, "geometrical 
and abstract" art is a creative process of another kind, concerned 
mainly with the method of expression. In passing he rather con- 

4. Worringer, Formprobleme, pp. 24-7. 

5. Hulme, Speculations, p. 53. "Vital and organic" art is characterized for 
Hulme in its difference from Byzantine or Egyptian art, and is unable to achieve 
"an austerity, a monumental stability, and permanence, a perfection and rigidity." 
Byzantine art, a separation-from rather than a joining-in, for Hulme, was non- 
"vital," and expressed "a kind of contempt for the world." {Speculations, pp. 9, 
57, 77, 92.) It is scarcely necessary to point out how Lewis would sympathize with 
this view. 

156 Art 

tradictorily holds up Cezanne as a model of this latter style — yet, 
linear as Cezanne may have been, he generally represented some 
aspect of the outside world. Meeting this contradiction in Cezanne 
Hulme seems to be led to admit that the artist must have contact 
with nature at some point, although nature need not be the source 
of his imagination ("There must be just as much contact with 
nature in an abstract art as in a realistic one; without that stimulus 
the artist could produce nothing").^ 

It is fascinating tp watch Hulme grappling with these con- 
troversies so much in advance, and it is interesting to notice that 
he takes a midway point, coinciding considerably with Lewis' views 
in The Caliph's Design, and in tacit approval of the second of Lewis' 
own painting styles I mentioned above, his semi-abstract method. 

So, coming on Kandinsky and total abstraction, Hulme is less 
happy. This emphasis on pure form, which he also finds in Lewis, 
David Bomberg, and Wadsworth (who praises Kandinsky and links 
him to the art of the East in Blast No, 7 ) , is abstraction for its own 
sake, Hulme says, an excess and therefore a romantic heresy. Al- 
though he likes Lewis' drawing "The Enemy of the Stars," Hulme 
now finds invalid the banishing of all emotion for the sake of an 
intellectual interest in shapes."^ 

In an article on Bomberg Hulme moves further over to this 
side, and criticizes the Rebel Art Centre. The human mind, Hulme 
writes here, can only ''edit," not "create," forms; for the abstract 
design to be valid, some contact must be made with the external 
world, for form alone does not produce an aesthetic emotion specific 
to form. Rather, abstraction simply touches off "ordinary everyday 
human emotions" by a new means, and therefore both artist and 
onlooker must be in touch with nature.^ 

Epstein, of course, fulfilled the requirements of this criticism 

6. T. E. Hulme, "Modern Art — ii, A Preface Note and Neo-Realism," The New 
Age, N.S., 14, No. 15 (Feb. 12, 1914), 467-9. 

7. T. E. Hulme, "Modern Art — iii, The London Group," The New Age, N.S., 

14, No. 21 (March 26, 1914), 661-2. 

8. Hulme, "Modem Art — iv, Mr. David Bomberg's Show," The New Age, N.S., 

15, No. 10 (July 9, 1914), 231-2. 

The Intelligent Few 157 

better than any of the Blast group, and Hulme rose quickly to the 
sculptor's defense in The New Age, while Epstein executed that 
noble head of Hulme by which most of us remember the philosopher 
today. Hulme does not seem to have allowed Lewis the period of 
Vorticism as a necessary interim phase. Perhaps at the time Lewis 
himself was uncertain how long an interim this style was to be. 
Pound, on the other hand, is far more satisfied with art being a 
mere arrangement of shapes than Hulme, though Pound puts some 
odd interpretations on Lewis' art, calling it "nearly always emo- 
tional" and then going on to liken it to Bach. In general, what 
Hulme saw in Lewis' art was a healthy change to that "austerity," 
"bareness," "structure," which he hoped were characteristics of an 
entire cultural change. As he put it, Lewis' pictures turned the 
organic (Einfiihlung) into the nonorganic (Abstraktion). Yet how- 
ever persuasive the Worringer-Hulme aesthetic may be in its ob- 
vious welcome to Vorticism, it has obvious flaws. Hulme, who did 
not share Lewis' emphasis on beauty,^ never explains why the 
satisfaction of a human need in art, as in Einfiihlung, must neces- 
sarily be bad, for Abstraktion, the reordering of a chaotic universe, 
was certainly the satisfaction of a need for primitive man. 

In conclusion, Lewis' own aesthetic is haunted by his sociological 
ideals. Art, a timeless thing, its values universal and static, must 
remain apart. ^^ It proceeds only from "the exceptional individual," 

9. Hulme, Speculations, p. 84, where we read, "We naturally do not call these 
geometrical arts beautiful because beauty for us is the satisfaction of a certain need, 
and that need is one which archaic art never set out to satisfy." Cf. "our goddess 
is Beauty" {Blast No. 2, p. 79). 

10. For Lewis, as for Benda, artistic truth should be objective, rather than func- 
tional. One should note, however, that Lewis occasionally denies that an artist can 
be truly impersonal; we find this denial in the encyclical given to Zagreus, and 
Zagreus himself later says that the paraphernalia of detachment in an artist may 
simply be a cloak for prejudice {Apes, pp. 125, 259). Lewis takes up this point in 
his book on Shakespeare, and I have confined it to this note because it does not 
really touch his main convictions. What he is really saying in The Lion and the 
Fox (pp. 284-91) is that the artist should have something to say, he should not be 
entirely uninterested in and uncommitted on the problems of his age; but the artist 
must remain apart from the action involving these problems: "Artistic creation is 
always a shut-off — and that is to say a personal — creation" {Lion and Fox, p. 286). 

158 Art 

or (in a much-quoted sentence) 'It is a constant stronghold, rather, 
of the purest human consciousness." ^^ In his two articles on "The 
Credentials of the Painter," where he places the painter above all 
other artists as being attached to truth by the sense of sight, Lewis 
actually makes the suggestion that art should impose all laws of 
value in human society. This, we shall see, is what sharply dis- 
tinguishes his thought from that of contemporary Thomism, for 
Lewis could never allow art to be used in the service of religion. 
Art for him is religion itself. And the system, the set of laws, under 
which he repeatedly asserts that he would have liked to work is 
one of intellectual aesthetic values. But not all artists wish to work 
within such a set of laws, especially as interpreted by Wyndham 
Lewis. In 1939 Sir William Rothenstein, who gives a generous 
estimate of Lewis' graphic work, adds: "If ever the Fascist party 
should come into power in England, I imagine Wyndham Lewis 
as the chief state artist; as Poet Laureate, Ezra Pound." ^^ 

The association, though suggestive, is not a happy one, for Lewis 
has never directly attached his creative art to the service of any 
Fascist, or indeed of any organized, politics. But like Benda he 
has consistently maintained that art cannot flourish in a contempo- 
rary democracy and that the artist must remain the obligatory enemy 
of that democracy. ^-^ " 'Our classifications,' " Tarr says, " 'are in- 
artistic' " Again Tarr declares, " 'You can't have "freedom" both 
ways and I prefer the artist to be free, and the crowd not to be 
"artists." ' " For Benda too the triumph of sensation over reason, 
hand in hand with our apriorist contemporary conscience, has fatally 
crippled the artistic and intellectual in our lives. ^* Or, as Lewis, 
makes Tarr say, " 'It is the artist's fate almost always to be exiled 
among the slaves.' " 

11. Time and Western Man, p. 39. 

12. Rothenstein, Since Fifty, p. 254. 

13. Benda, Spreuve, pp. 134-6. 

14. Ibid., pp. 58, 137, 162; Benda, Trahison, pp. 25-6. 


'Exclaim with me: 'Oh World, oh Life, oh Time!' 
And make each thought with busybody rhyme!" 

One-Way Song, p. 123. 

Chapter lo: The Many against the One 

"On every hand some sort of unconscious life is recommended and 
heavily advertised, in place of the conscious life of will and intellect 
. . . the crowds were pitted against the Individual, the Unconscious 
against the Conscious, the 'emotional' against the 'intellectual,' the 
Many against the One." {Time and Western Man, pp. 318-20.] 

In HIS attack on what he calls "time" Lewis is simply criticizing 
romanticism in its contemporary garb. The "time-philosophers" he 
singles out as having chiefly "presided at, and speeded, the dis- 
solution of an ancient culture" are writers rather than painters. It 
is true that Picasso is criticized in Time and Western Man, but on 
the whole it is literature, unfolding in time, rather than painting, 
unfolding in space, with which Lewis here has to do. 

Time and Western Man is the principal English document in the 
whole neoclassical movement to arrest the attrition of what was con- 
sidered to be "Western Man." Eliot's fear of the "hooded hordes," 
which he connects by footnote with Hermann Hesse's prediction 
of Philistinism overcoming Europe in Blick ins Chaos, was part 
of a general fear of European dissolution by many intellectuals 
after the first World War and the Russian revolution. Indeed, Henri 
Massis' Defense de VOccident appeared in Flint's translation in 
England the same year as Time and Western Man. Of course, 
there is much in Massis' work with which Lewis would disagree. 
"Asiatisme" and "bolchevisme" are the main forces weakening 
Europe for the Catholic convert Massis. Lewis would be unlikely to 
concede Massis the former peril (especially not as German oriental- 
ism, by now), because his graphic beliefs have usually led him to 

162 Time 

write well of the Orient. And although Massis links "asiatisme" and 
its evil influences with Proust and Gide, he is not principally con- 
cerned, as Lewis obviously is, in criticizing ideas of dissolution 
through literary practitioners. Still, Massis defends what Lewis de- 
fends in the name of the West: "Personnalite, unite, stabilite, autorite, 
continuite, voila les idees meres de I'Occident." ^ "Time," for Lewis, 
is the opposite of these qualities. But Lewis wrote to Lord Carlow, 
and confessed in Time and Western Man itself, that he was exposing 
reprehensible elements in Western thought through authors, show- 
ing the concepts he chiefly opposes in operation on the plane of 
literature. And in the same way Benda claims that since a literature 
has been erected on Bergsonism, one has to analyze this canker 
through the literature concerned. ^ 

If this is the case, one can justifiably approach Lewis' attack 
on "time" on its literary side first, and then move behind the "time- 
philosophers" to "time-philosophy" itself. At bottom, there lies 
Lewis' conviction that time and motion are synonymous, and that 
imperfection is synonymous with both. Zagreus says this; Lewis 
says this. And Yeats too, who approved of Time and Western Man, 
also seems to have seen time and subjective, or suggestive, literature 
as the same. 

The root of Lewis' criticism of "time-philosophy" is to be found 
in a passage from Time and Western Man, which A. C. Ward 
also selects as the summary of his attack: ^ "The Time-doctrine, first 
promulgated in the philosophy of Bergson, is in its essence, to put 
it as simply as possible, anti-physical and pro-mental." ^ But for 
Lewis' "mental," here, we should of course substitute "psychologi- 
cal." The "mind," in the sense of the intellect, is what he imagines 
he is defending in the book. "Chairs and tables, mountains and 
stars, are animated into a magnetic restlessness and sensitiveness, 
and exist on the same vital terms as man. They are as it were the 

1. Henri Massis, Defense de I'Occident (Paris, Plon, 1927), p. 11. 

2. Julien Benda, Le Bergsonisme ou une philosophie de la mobilite (Paris, 
Mercure de France, 1913), p. 6. 

3. A. C. Ward, The Nineteen-Twenties (London, Methuen, 1930), p. 68. 

4. Time and Western Man, p. 449. 

The Many against the One 163 

lowest grade, the most sluggish of animals. All is alive: and, in 
that sense, all is mental." ^ 

This is exactly Benda's complaint about Bergsonism: "C'est 
le mouvement aujourd'hui qui est divin, le changement, Fabsence 
de toute fixite." ^ Art alone, in Lewis' view, is able to confer the 
static on the objects it apprehends. For science is today constantly 
altering the objects under its scrutiny, and in one place Lewis 
actually demands that art should be the master of science, that the 
scientist should remain simply the "self-effacing highly technical 
valet" of the artist. And science, too, has today become popular, 
another dithyrambic heresy ("The audience participates fully: every 
one, from the smallest errand-boy, assists at the performance"). 
Naturally, this criticism has its political connotations for Lewis: 
"Science stands for the theory of collective life, art for the doctrine 
of individual life." In both The Art of Being Ruled and Time and 
Western Man Lewis alleges at length that science is manipulating 
the passions of the mob under a shield of bogus anonymity, and 
reducing us all to goggling children, a criticism it is difficult to ignore 
in, say, contemporary America.'^ 

Since by this constant alteration, this continual revolutionizing of 
trends, science is "anti-physical," it devolves on the artist to safe- 
guard the intellect ("consciousness"). So it follows, then, that a 
literature interested in depicting subconscious states must be 
shunned; it is especially treacherous — the stream-of-consciousness 
technique is "a public stream." For Lewis personality is stability, 
and a literature of the subconscious, which he sees as the area of 
sensational life, threatens the principle of being, for "a man is only 
an individual when he is conscious." Here he argues side by side 
with all the more intelligent neoclassicists; in Messages, Fernandez 
writes, "L'image esthetique est irreductible a I'image psychologique." 
And thus we reach Lewis' severe, nay virulent, criticism of the 
"time-children," Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. Now admittedly 

5. Ibid. 

6. Benda, Sur le succes du Bergsonisme, p, 176, 

7. Art of Being Ruled, pp. 4, 13, 266-7; Time and Western Man, pp. 313-19. 

164 Time 

Lewis reviews in the same way a number of other writers under this 
head, but not only have I no space to deal with all these attacks 
individually, they are generally subsequent to, and derive from, the 
criticisms in Time and Western Man. His attacks on such diverse 
figures as Sartre, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, or Faulkner 
("moralist with a corn cob") add little new. The criticism of 
Hemingway ("the dumb ox") in Men without Art is an attack on 
the cult of "action" through this writer, a cult satirized earlier in 
Tarr in the person of Kreisler. In the Hemingway hero Lewis rebukes 
a civilization "where personality is the least thing liked" and which 
he sees rapidly approaching a military state. Lacking in will, the 
Hemingway hero (up to 1934, that is) was an objectionable repre- 
sentative of our society, a herdlike dolt ''to whom things happen" 
(Zola's ideal of subjecting men and women to things). It is cus- 
tomary to shrug olf this attack today, and Carlos Baker makes light 
of it in his book on Hemingway. In Enemies of Promise Cyril 
Connolly observes that "at the period at which Hemingway wrote 
his best books it was necessary to be a dumb ox. It was the only 
way to escape from Chelsea's Apes of God and from Bloomsbury's 
Sacred Geese." ^ Even so, it should be remembered that Lewis 
here opened up the one avenue by which serious attack is now 
made on Hemingway, such attack, that is, as dares to raise its head 
today. Actually, far more than Joyce, Hemingway is the total 
opposite of Lewis as a writer. In any case, is not Lewis' objection 
to Hemingway here an objection to Bergson, especially to Bergson's 
theory of "perception pure" as expressed in Matiere et memoire? ^ 
It is not unfair to say that Bergson was an ally of action; he saw 
knowledge and action (perhaps activity would be a better word) as 
intimately related, and indeed wrote, "Nous sommes faits pour agir 
autant et plus que pour penser." ^^ 

8. Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise (rev. ed. New York, Macmillan, 1948), 
p. 66. 

9. Henri Bergson, Matiere et memoire (Paris, Felix Alcan, 1900), pp. 56-7. 

10. Bergson, U involution creatrice, p. 321. 

The Many against the One 165 

Gertrude Stein, far more than Hemingway, exemplifies what 
Lewis is attacking in his thesis, "Subject as King of the Psychological 
World." Abdication of the intellect, deprivation of the external, 
physical, common-sense world of validity, suppression of authority, 
anarchy of the instincts, "an eternal mongrel itch to mix, in un- 
directed concupiscence, with everything that walks or crawls," these 
are the elements Lewis sees in the work of Stein and, to some extent, 
in that of Joyce, the prime "time-philosophers." Psychic concerns 
conquer physical veracity: "The distinction between sensation and 
sense-datum vanishes. You are forced to a fusion of the world of 
objects with the fact of apprehension, so that when you see a tree 
you are the tree." Stein is a dithyrambic spectator: "she, too, became 
the people she wrote about." Stein's infantilism drives Lewis to 
distraction. "The spurious child-language of Miss Stein, cadenced 
and said twice over in the form of the hebrew recitative," leads 
him to torrents of protest, which it is unnecessary to repeat here: 
"she writes usually so like a child — like a confused, stammering, 
rather 'soft' (bloated, acromegalic, squinting and spectacled, one 
can figure it as) child." In Satire and Fiction he writes, "Stein is 
just the german musical soul leering at itself in a mirror, and stick- 
ing out at itself a stuttering welt of swollen tongue." This child 
style, which Lewis believes to be derived from Isaiah, is political 
in effect: it is "the dark stammering voice of a social dissolution." 
For by this method, the instincts are invited to establish a dogma, 
matter is made to overcome mind, and the psyche conquers that 
principle of authority, the intellect. 

The last is accomplished by Stein in her attack on the word, which 
is the literary representative of the intellect ("Hatred of the word 
goes hand in hand with hatred of the intellect, for the word is, 
of course, its sign").^^ Again, the French antiromanticists agree. 
Both Lasserre and Maurras (in Le Romantisme feminin) had al- 
ii. Art of Being Ruled, p. 404. Cf. "Hostility to the word goes hand in hand 
with propaganda for the intuitional, mystical chaos" (Time and Western Man, p. 

166 Time 

ready seen verbal experiment in literature an ally of a wider anarchy, 
particularly when in the hands of women or "meteques." Benda 
complains that Bergsonism sets up "la superiorite du vagissement 
sur la parole," ^^ while Gonzague True, in Classicisme d'hier et 
classiques d'aujourd'hui, writes, "le classique . . . entend s'ex- 
pliquer par la parole, non se purger par Feclat des cris ou le hoquet 
des sanglots." ^^ 

Because of this, for attacking the intellect via language. Stein 
and Joyce are the chief representatives of decay in the name of 
"time." We shall find both collected and flayed in Lewis' satirical 
hades. The Childermass, and in this work the one thing the (un- 
pleasant) Bergsonian Bailiff hates is the word, or logos .^"^ This is 
the purpose of Lewis' satire in the second canto of One-Way Song, 
called "The Song of the Militant Romance." Stanzas ii-viii of this 
section of the poem show the romanticist speaking for the clattering, 
splenetic, and frenziedly anti-intellectual, and stanza ix concludes: 

I sabotage the sentence! With me is the naked word. 
I spike the verb — all parts of speech are pushed over on their backs. 
I am the master of all that is half-uttered and imperfectly heard. 
Return with me where I am crying out with the gorilla and the bird! 

"The stammering ogress, Trudy' Stein," with her "gargantuan 
mental stutter," is not only guilty of the child cult for Lewis, she 
shares in its twin, imbecility. He frequently likens her work to the 
mouthings of madness, makes her persona vomit in Malign Fiesta, 
and in one place regrets that "The massive silence of the full idiot 
is, unfortunately, out of her reach." 

It must be admitted that it is precisely for her cult of the child 
that Stein is often defended by her champions, like Edwin Muir 
or Laura Riding who calls Stein "the darhng priest of cultured 

12. Benda, Le Bergsonisme, p. 59. 

13. Gonzague True, Classicisme d'hier et classiques d'aujourd'hui, "fitudes 
fran^aises," dix-huitieme cahier, l^r mars 1929 (Paris, Societe d'fidition "Les Belles 
Lettres"), p. 3. 

14. Childermass, p. 200. 

The Many against the One 167 

infantilism to her age." ^^ Nor should, to balance Lewis' criticism, 
the idea of Stein as a representative of transition (which he con- 
tinually throws out) be tolerated. It is a fact that transition pub- 
hshed Stein faithfully, their first issue in April 1927 containing 
the famous hne "suppose a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." But 
in February 1935, after the publication of Stein's pseudo-autobi- 
ography called Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Jolas published 
a special supplement critical of her work and refuting her claims, 
allowing a number of French contemporaries to express their disap- 
proval of her in a manner scarcely less disobliging than Lewis' own. 
transition, however, played a principal role in the controversy be- 
tween Lewis and Joyce, and as this controversy involved two major 
literary intellects of our time, it would be best to look at it in detail. 

15. Laura Riding, Contemporaries and Snobs (London, Jonathan Cape, 1928), 
p. 189. 

Chapter ii: Master Joys and Windy Nous 

•Master Joys of Potluck, Joys of Jingles, whom men called Crossword- 
Joys for his apt circumsolutions but whom the Gods call just Joys or 
Shimmy, shut and short. — 'Sure and oi will bighorror!' sez the dedalan 
Sham-up-to-date with a most genteelest soft-budding gem of a hip- 
cough. 'Oh solvite me' — bolshing in ers fist most mannerly." [The 
Childermass, p. 172.] 

Lewis first met Joyce in the summer of 1920, taking him as a gift 
from Ezra Pound an old pair of shoes, shoes to appear, incidentally, 
in Finnegans Wake. The introduction, effected by Eliot, took place 
in Paris and resulted in the head of Joyce drawn by Lewis and 
reproduced in Blasting and Bombardiering. Both writers had pre- 
viously published with The Egoist Ltd., and Joyce owned copies 
of both Tarr and The Caliph's Design. There are warm letters from 
Lewis to Joyce shortly after this, congratulating him on Ulysses 
and hoping the best for it. And in the first issue of transition, dated 
April 1927, Lewis signed the appeal protesting against Roth's 
piracy of Joyce's work. In September of this year, however, Time 
and Western Man appeared, expanding the previous attack on 
Joyce in The Art of Being Ruled. In December the editors of 
transition assailed Lewis with "First Aid to the Enemy," to which 
Lewis retorted with "The Diabolical Principle," first printed in 
The Enemy No. 3 of January 1929. For already, in transition for 
September 1927, "Work in Progress" (or "warping process," as it 
is called in the Wake) had featured the famous lecture by that 
"spatialist" Welshman, Professor Jones, and in February 1928 the 
author of Spice and West end Woman is ridiculed. But in "spice and 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 169 

westend woman" (or Time and Western Man) Lewis had concur- 
rently jibbed at "the gathering material of a new book, which, alto- 
gether almost, employs the manner of Nash" ^ by Joyce. In June 
1928 Lewis published The Childermass: Section i (or Part i, as 
it is the American edition), from which point on it can fairly be 
said that he has anathematized Joyce's work, while according it the 
first importance. 

In his admirable book on Joyce published in 1941 Harry Levin 
pointed out that "Joyce has stuck his tongue out at Lewis in 
Finnegans Wake." ^ About a decade later William York Tindall 
went into the personification of Lewis in Finnegans Wake a little 
more fully, but it is only more recently still, perhaps because of the 
rather obvious and much gentler caricature of Joyce in The Human 
Age (touched on at the end of this book), that contemporary 
critics in general have become aware of the controversy between 
the two men. Hugh Kenner, the Catholic apologist for Lewis, had 
obviously been aware of it, however, since he knew Lewis' work 
well, and in his brilliant Dublin's Joyce he has, with characteristic 
perspicuity, written the most extended examination of the Lewis- 
Joyce debat to date.^ While being extremely indebted to it, I cannot 
always agree with his Shaun identifications, nor is he, one observes, 
very interested in dating the quarrel (indeed, it appears rather as a 
jolly lark between the two men in his pages). This last is worth in- 
vestigating, ail the same. 

Already I have shown the almost simultaneous mutual satirizing 
by the two writers, and a glance at the epigraph to this chapter will 
reinforce this feeling. Joyce (or Joys) is here "the dedalan Sham- 
up-to-date"; in transition for October 1927, eight months before 
The Childermass, Shem answered "the first riddle of the universe 
. . . when is a man not a man?" with "Shem was a sham." ^ Yet 

1. Time and Western Man, p. 122. 

2. Harry Levin, James Joyce (Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1941), p. 198. 

3. Hugh Kenner, Dublin's Joyce (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 
1956), pp. 362-9. 

4. James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (New York, Viking Press, 1947), p. 170. 

170 Time 

this mention, so often used by Lewis against Joyce in The Childer- 
mass, may in turn have been taken by Joyce from Time and 
Western Man, for he is likely to have seen an early copy of this 
work in which Lewis refers to both him and Gertrude Stein as 
"shams." In the same passage above, "Joys of Jingles" refers us 
to Lewis' main charge, in both The Art of Being Ruled and Time 
and Western Man, that Joyce had merely copied Dickens' method 
of presenting the thought-stream of Alfred Jingle in Pickwick Papers. 
(Paul Shorey thought that Joyce's technique came from the battle 
soliloquies of Hector in the Iliad. ^) 

Now, in "Juan before St. Bride's," Shem (as Joyce) is called 
"Mr. Jinglejoys," suggesting Lewis' Jingle of The Art of Being 
Ruled and Time and Western Man and Joys of The Childermass. 
This reference appeared in the summer of 1928; moreover, there 
is a likely reference to The Childermass by Joyce as much as a year 
before this, in transition for August 1927. The word "innocent," 
in the passage relating to The Waste Land and beginning "Premver 
a promise of a pril," is now closely followed by the word "massacre," 
a massacre of the innocents giving us, of course, the Childermass. 
However, Nathan Halper has spotted that the version ot this 
chapter that appeared in The Criterion in 1925 contained only 
the word "innocent," and lacked "massacre." Thus between this 
year and August 1 927 Joyce saw fit to add the latter word and give 
the passage one of its obvious present interpretations, namely the 
massacre of the innocent Joyce by Lewis' attacks (probably the 
one on A Portrait). Moreover, there had been two references in 
Ulysses to a "slaughter" of the innocents, the first through Bloom 
in the Lestrygonian episode. 

Coincidental collocation or Joycean prophecy? Most probably, 
I suggest, oral information passing between the two men, since the 
same thing happened in reverse, and here the problems of dating 
become fascinating. In The Apes of God (or "massacre of the 
insignificants," as Lewis called it) Lewis characterizes Joyce as 

5. Paul Shorey, What Plato Said, Chicago, 111., University of Chicago Press, 
1933, p. 64. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 111 

a second-rate writer and self-publisher called James julius (i.e. James 
Joyce) Ratner, a Jew and the "Split-Man" of Part v of this work. 
Zagreus, for example, tells us that he "emerged from the East End, 
with Freud for his Talmud," and when the absurd nai'f Dan Boleyn 
(who has a father called Stephen in Dublin, by the by) meets him, 
we read: "He had never seen a Jew before — and he hoped from the 
bottom of his great Irish heart that he might never see one again!" 
A further parallel between Dan Boleyn and Anne Boleyn (on whose 
account, after all, the father of English humanism, Sir Thomas 
More, suffered) and the fact that the Joyce personae in Lewis' 
works are usually called "rats" tempt one to digress further in this 
direction, but the interesting thing here is that Ratner is editor 
of a high-brow weekly called Man X, which I take to be Lewis' 
Joycean pun on transition via the "official" photographer (and 
photographer of Joyce, too) for that periodical, Man Ray (X ray 
— Man X). In this journal "it was possible for Juliusjimmie to 
puff and fan that wan perishable flame of the occasional works of 
his old friend Jimjulius." And so on. 

Now although Lewis had read and reviled A Portrait of the 
Artist, he had not seen Stephen Hero and could not have seen in 
print any overt reference to the "epiphany" of the inspired artist's 
moment of supreme apprehension, except for Stephen's fairly arcane 
reference to his "epiphanies on green oval leaves" in the Proteus 
section of Ulysses (which would not, in any case, have given Lewis 
the clue to a method of composition). Yet we can at once see that 
Ratner's method of writing is thoroughly Joycean, for Lewis at 
any rate. It is described as "auto-parley," or "automatic writing," 
consisting of "continual impassioned asides" and "thrilling words 
in isolation, of high-brow melodrama, and the rest of the 'sickening' 
tricks of the least ambitious, sham-experimental, second-rate literar}' 
cabotinage." What seems to me almost certain evidence, then, of 
some oral connection, or unpreserved letters, between the two 
writers is the fact that Lewis makes Ratner compose in a supposedly 
epiphanic manner, thus: "A factory. Two freemasons. A cloud 
threatened the tail of the serpent. A little child picked a forget-me- 

172 Time 

not. She lifted a chalice. It was there. Epiphany. There were three 
distinct vibrations."^ It but remains to add, in this context, that 
Ratner, once called a "bilious greasespot," is perhaps the most 
unpleasant character Lewis has ever depicted. A "split-man" in the 
sense of lacking in cultural continuity, Ratner goes to Lord Osmund's 
party in a fancy-dress costume filled with associations all detestable 
to Lewis (Madame Blavatsky, D. H. Lawrence, Quetzalcoatl) : 
"My very fly-buttons are allusive," he says proudly to himself, 
looking in the mirror at this get-up which reminds one also of 
HCE's outfit at the start of Book i, chapter 2 of the Wake ("HCE 
— His Agnomen and Reputation"), the Earl's costume later as- 
sumed by Shaun and not unlike the clothes Lewis is said to have 
sported in his own youth. "Masochismus, thy name is Ratner!" 
Zagreus says to him. Finally, to revert to my specimen passage as 
epigraph, Lewis' "shut and short" may throw back to the huge 
"SHUT" Shem's house has on it, just before the appearance of The 
Childermass, while we equally wonder if the "solvite" refers to 
the "Solvitur!" Shaun, in Joyce's work, had earlier given to Shem. 
Of course, Lewis makes no pretense to academic standards when 
judging Joyce in Time and Western Man, but rather immediately 
classes him with all he dislikes most. He is guilty of what Professor 
Jones in the Wake calls "Demonocracy." "The method of Ulysses 
imposes a softness, flabbiness and vagueness everywhere in its 
bergsonian fluidity." '^ Other "time-philosophers," however, must 
be found for the genesis of this hateful work, and so we read, "This 
torrent of matter is the einsteinian flux." Bergson and Einstein. Well, 
either Lewis knew of Joyce's interest in these masters, or the latter 's 
gift of prophecy was something he need not have joked about. For 
in transition for September 1 927 occurs the lecture we now have in 
Finnegans Wake, given by the "spatiahst" Professor Jones (as 
common a name in Wales as Lewis) ; Jones, as many have already 
recognized, partially prolongs the characterization of Lewis as 

6. Apes, p. 156; italics in the text. 

7. Time and Western Man, p. 120. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 173 

Shaun, although in the lesson chapter Shaun shadows into Yeats 
and Hopkins. When asked whether he would help a colleague like 
Shem, "a poor acheseyeld from Ailing . . . dropping hips teeth 
... the bhnd blighter," he categorically refuses. He is apparently 
something of a painter ("Every admirer has seen my goulache of 
Marge") and he begins a lecture on the "dime-cash problem." He 
dismisses the "sophology of Bitchson" (Bergson) as well as "the 
whoo-whoo and where's hair theories of Winestain" (the who's who 
and Where's here of Einstein). He refers to a "postvortex" lecture 
he has heard and, in particular, to Levy-Bruhl, author in real life 
of La Mentalite primitive, a "time" man obviously as he supports 
the idea that the all (or "Allswill") is ''when." Jones, on the other 
hand, in company with Professor Llewellys ap Bryllars, F.D. (an- 
other pseudoscholarly Welshman), finds "the all is where in love 
as war." ^ It is Professor Jones who, in the study period of the Wake, 
interrupts Dolph and Kev in an interpolation that paraphrases 
Parnell's statement concerning English suppression of Irish national- 
ist aspiration, and which Joyce seems here to apply to the arresting 
of Irish literary genius by English critics as in "that most improving 
of roundshows, Spice and Westend Woman (utterly exhausted be- 
fore pubHcation, indiapepper edition shortly)." By implication, then, 
Lewis here becomes "the beast of boredom," thus jibing with that 
other Shaun persona Yawn {transition for February 1928), whence 
Brawn, Jaunty Jaun, Don Juan, and so forth. 

The important thing, for us, is Jones's reply to the initial question 
put. As Tindall has told us, Joyce was impartial on the subject 
of time versus space. ^ In the caricature of himself he made as Shem 
it is now clear that considerable concessions were made to Lewis' 
charges, for Finnegans Wake, alone among Joyce's works, shows 
him taking cognizance of criticism (including that of Rebecca West ) . 
Time and space came to represent for Joyce here one aspect of 
that duality by which modern life is haunted; in the Wake every 

8. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, pp. 148-51. 

9. W. Y. Tindall, James Joyce (New York, Scribner's, 1950), p. 92. 

174 Time 

Shem has its Shaun — be it Lewis, Gogarty, Stanislaus, De Valera, 
Cranly, or whomever — and Yeats is one of the very few (in the 
lesson period mentioned) to become almost a full HCE, a Shem 
plus Shaun. Stephen had said that an aesthetic image is to be pre- 
sented in time or space, both of which the artist may presumably 
employ. But Joyce was extraordinarily acute in his Lewis-Shaun 
identifications, for although neither of the two brothers could be 
adequate by himself (and they are indeed rescued by ALP in a 
union of the Muse) the Lewisian modulation of Shaun uses only 
space and refuses to come to terms with Shem. In his lampoon of 
Lewis Joyce was as fair as Lewis was unfair to him. 

For, of course, Lewis' "Analysis of the Mind of James Joyce" is 
packed with contradictions. At one moment he says that Ulysses 
has classical affinities, the next he writes that it buries "the classical 
unities of time and place." With one hand he throws off the idea 
that Joyce, being "not so much an inventive intelligence as an 
executant," cares little for matter: "He is become so much a writing- 
specialist that it matters very little to him what he writes." Two 
pages later Lewis affirms that Joyce possesses "an appetite that 
certainly will never be matched again for the actual matter revealed 
in his composition." Nor can the arrogant picture of Joyce Lewis 
draws be very well reconciled with the notion that he has a "herd- 
mind," other than by some such philosophic perversity as that "The 
authentic revolutionary . . . will rebel against everything — not 
least rebellion." (Will he? one wonders.) Not only is Lewis' charge 
that "There is not very much reflection going on at any time inside 
the head of Mr. James Joyce" echoed by Harvey Wickham in 
The Impuritans ("Joyce never did much conscious thinking"), but 
Kenner has shown how Joyce put it in the Wake: "There was not 
very much windy Nous blowing at the given moment through the 
hat of Mr. Melancholy Slow!" Windy might here be used in the 
English sense of scared, while nous of course comes from the Greek 
word for mind. 

No, at first glance all this seems like an almost deliberately 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 175 

obtuse misunderstanding of Ulysses. Yet, like Picasso, Joyce is 
highly praised by Lewis also; he is to be placed "very high in con- 
temporary letters." In 1935 he is "a great literary artist." ^^ In 1950 
his work is "o/ its kind a masterpiece." ^^ Still, Joyce shares with 
Stein in verbal anarchy, in the destruction of the personality on 
behalf of the psychic flux, in the lack of linear or plastic qualities 
in his prose, and in that mark of fashion — "the sign of the herd- 
mind." Lewis fictionally implements this criticism in The Childer- 

In the discussion of this satire at the end of the present study, 
it will be shown how Joyce appears as James Pullman, governess 
or nanny to Satterthwaite (Gertrude Stein). Here, however, it is 
pertinent to note that the former of these characterizations merges 
into Master Joys, a sly, sham, left-wing, pedantic writer with definite 
physical and literary associations with Joyce. "A cute little Cyclops 
with his one sad watery glim," he has "Vico the mechanical for 
guide in the musty labrinths of the latter-days to train him to circle 
true and make orbit upon himself." Joys freely admits that he 
is a fake, or sham: "arrah we're born in a thdrop of bogjuice and 
we pops off in a splutter of shamfiz or sham pain." The Bergsonian 
Baihff of this work quotes Joys as follows: "Then as for that cross- 
word polyglottony in the which I indulges misself for recreation 
bighorror, why bighorror isn't it aysy the aysiest way right out of 
what you might call the postoddydeucian dam dirty cul of a sack 
into which shure and bighorror I've bin and gone and thropped 
misself and all, since s' help me Jayzers oiv sed all I haz to say and 
there's an end of the matter?" ^^ Xo this a character called Chris 
rephes, "Oh capital sir! I recognize him!" It is not, in fact, hard to 
recognize the original of Joys, a "giltedged giltie conshie of a play- 
boy of westend letters," who is, "half Orange and quarter Bog- 

10. Wyndham Lewis, "Martian Opinions," The Listener, 14, No. 340 (July 17, 
1935), 125. 

11. Rude Assignment, p. 55. 

12. Childermass, p. 175. 

176 Time 

apple it is probable and in any case naturally half-hearted about 
Isis and Kadescha Papa and all that, not to say generally laodicean 
and a bit elegantly lily-languid as I knew, but his god is Chance and 
that as it chances is mine so as another narfter thort (talking all 
the time beeang ontong to you in the patois picked up in Targums, 
Titbits, Bhcking Homilies, Centuruolas, Encyclepeeds, Boyle's Dic- 
tionary, the Liber Albus, Tamil and Lap Vademecums, set to the 
tune of the best Nash-patter)." ^^ It is not hard when we recall that in 
Time and Western Man Lewis compared Joyce's technique with 
that of Nashe — thus in the Wake Professor Jones scoffs at "his craft 
ebbing, invoked by the unirish title, Grindings of Nash." Similarly, 
we observe that "Windy Nous" knew of Joyce's use of the celebrated 
Tit-Bits, the defense of which in 1881 by Newnes along the line 
"What the Public Wants" is frequently assailed elsewhere by Lewis 
himself. Finally, Joyce returned Lewis' skit on his accent; the ultra- 
British author of Spice and Westend Woman, wearing an Eton 
collar, opposes Irish upstarts in such terms as, "you must, how, 
in undivided reawlity draw the line somewhawre." 

From these works, then, Lewis clearly shows himself familiar 
with Ulysses, "Work in Progress," and, most important, with A Por- 
trait of the Artist as a Young Man. From the evidence of his close 
knowledge of Joyce's technical aims advanced above, I do not 
think it unfair to conclude that calling Joyce a "time-philosopher" 
was a deliberate misunderstanding, one with the attack on Eliot as 
a "pseudoist" in Men without Art. Few if any critics, however un- 
friendly to Joyce in the intention (as Rebecca West in The Strange 
Necessity), have chosen the basis of "time" on which to arraign 
Joyce's oeuvre. Most critics realize the reverse to have been true. 
Stuart Gilbert writes, "The structure of Ulysses (though to a less 
extent than that of 'Work in Progress') indicates that Joyce aspires 
to outsoar the category of time." ^* Claude-Edmonde Magny adds, 

13. Ibid., p. 174. 

14. Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's "Ulysses" (London, Faber and Faber, 1930), 
p. 355. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 111 

"Right from The [sic] Portrait of the Artist Joyce is seen as essen- 
tially preoccupied with eliminating, through his description of it, the 
temporal succession of events from the world." ^^ The simultaneity 
of time in Finnegans Wake, the representation of flux, a river, by 
a woman in the same work, are clearly in harmony with Lewis' 
aesthetic requirements; surely all the "men of 1914" were in har- 
mony here, for April, month of change, was disliked by Eliot, while 
Pound actually called Joyce "classic." ^^ 

In short, unless we allow for the idea of malice, Lewis' criticism 
of Joyce as a "time-philosopher" is almost inexplicable; perhaps, 
indeed, it is the "cawraidd's blow" ^^ dealt by Taff in the Wake, 
and so similar to that given Stephen by the English Private Carr 
in Ulysses. We notice that it is always the Shaun personification 
who is belligerent: thus Kev (whose police element reminds one 
of Lewis' attitude in One-Way Song) strikes Dolph, Chuff wrestles 
Glugg, and so on. For critics have by now arrived at some agree- 
ment that the conversation between Stephen and Lynch in A 
Portrait partly exhibits Joyce's own early aesthetic. Apart from 
the more obvious autobiographical elements, comparison can be 
made between Stephen's statements to Lynch and Joyce's own 
Paris notebooks, as given in Herbert Gorman's James Joyce}^ 
Stephen refers, in fact, to "a book at home" in which he has re- 
corded questions and answers such as Gorman publishes. Here 
Stephen calls the aesthetic emotion "static": "The mind is arrested 
and raised above desire and loathing." ^^ He later returns to this 
idea of rest, which characterizes good art for him, and which we find 
in the Paris notebooks: "All art, again, is static for the feelings of 

15. C.-E. Magny, "A Double Note on T. S. Eliot and James Joyce," T. S. Eliot: 
A Symposium, p. 209. 

16. Pound, Pavannes and Divisions, p. 159. 

17. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 344. 

18. Herbert Gorman, James Joyce (New York, Rinehart, 1948), pp. 95-100. 

19. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Portable James 
Joyce, edited with an Introduction by Harry Levin (New York, Viking Press, 1949), 
p. 470. 

178 Time 

terror and pity on the one hand and of joy on the other hand are 
feeHngs which arrest us." ^° What Stephen calls "an aesthetic stasis" 
is the ideal reaction caused by a work of art. He then goes on to 
explain a theory of rhythm to Lynch and to elaborate his idea of art 
as "the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an 
asthetic end." 

Here the Paris notebooks are particularly interesting for in them 
Joyce puts a series of questions to himself, reduced in A Portrait, 
as to what constitutes a work of art, and it becomes clear that the 
necessary "human disposition" (the word is surely used in the 
French sense), producing the ideal "stasis of the mind," must to a 
large extent be brought about by the intellect. This is presented to 
Lynch by Stephen in terms of admiration of female beauty. 
Stephen's requirements of beauty, which are Aquinas' (wholeness, 
harmony, radiance), are those of the mind, which have appealed 
to different kinds of men in different stages of development, rather 
than being mere desire for reproduction of the species (emotion). 

Joyce's own notations from Aristotle, as well as the library scene 
in Ulysses, show how much store Joyce set on the intellect from the 
first. Surely Lewis must have sympathized, when reading this scene, 
with Aristotle representing the rock of dogma facing Plato the 
whirlpool. But although Stephen well knows which of the two, 
Aristotle or Plato, would have banished him from his common- 
wealth,^^ Bloom of course steers neatly between this Scylla and 
Charybdis. Again, although Stephen and Bloom merge at the end 
of the work (Blephen and Stoom), the idea of Stephen standing for 
the Hellenic, the intellectual, the artistic, as against Bloom, the 
Hebraist, the sensualist, the scientific, should by rights have made 
Lewis far friendlier toward Stephen than he was, unless indeed 
he was incensed by their very merging. 

Yet for Stephen, as for Lewis, the inspired artist had to remain 

20. Gorman, Joyce, p. 97. 

21. James Joyce, Ulysses (New York, Random House, Modern Library ed., 
1934), p. 184. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 179 

godlike and apart, and the moment of epiphany, the artist's flash 
of supreme apprehension in which he should have utter faith, had 
to be a revelation of ''quidditas, the whatness of a thing" — exactly, 
in fact, Lewis' "essential." It is described by Stephen as follows: 
"The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear 
radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the 
mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by 
its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure." ^^ And, 
as I have emphasized, this moment of quasi-divine revelation, so 
Stephen suggests, may come about by an image presented in space 
or in time, for "What is audible is presented in time, what is visible 
is presented in space." There is no evaluative differentiation and 
it may have been this very impartiality, operating in the first of 
"Work in Progress," that decided Lewis that Joyce deserved an over- 
all diatribe. And this, too, is what surely distinguishes such artistic 
apprehension from Proust's "moment privilegie," with which it has 
been compared by Marcel Brion, for Proust's epiphanic moment, 
of which the madeleine episode is the most popularly known proto- 
type, was itself a moment in flux, changing even as presented. 

Joyce's epiphany, although early unspecified, seems to have been 
rather an attempt to fix perception and appreciation. And in this 
fixing, this "disposition," the intellect is to operate considerably 
— this can be substantiated in the fuller description of the theory 
in Stephen Hero (which, again, Lewis would not have seen before 
The Childermass) . Here once more we find statements that Lewis 
should by rights openly applaud. For Stephen, who is to teU the 
President that "My entire esteem is for the classical temper in art," 
does not yet want to make any facile association between classical 
and Hellenic. So he says: 

Classicism is not the manner of any fixed age or of any fixed 
country: it is a constant state of the artistic mind. It is a temper 
of security and satisfaction and patience. The romantic temper, 

22. Joyce, Portrait, p. 479. 

180 Time 

so often and so grievously misinterpreted, and not more by 
others than by its own, is an insecure, unsatisfied, impatient 
temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses 
therefore to behold them under insensible figures . . . The 
classical temper on the other hand, ever mindful of limita- 
tions, chooses rather to bend upon these present things and so 
to work upon them and fashion them that the quick intel- 
ligence may go beyond them to their meaning which is still 

Although we must not, of course, confuse Joyce (especially the 
later Joyce) with Stephen, as did Lewis who called that character 
"a neat, carefully-drawn picture of Joyce," it is nonetheless in- 
teresting to note that in Stephen Hero Stephen toys "with a theory 
of duaHsm which would symbolise the twin eternities of spirit and 
nature in the twin eternities of male and female." Shem and Shaun, 
Earwicker's two sons in the Wake, also personified as the school- 
children Dolph and Kev, and again as the comedians Butt and Taff 
(obviously Mutt and Jeff) who turn into Mutt and Jute and into 
Muta and Juva, these stand for time and space, ear and eye, and 
in some measure for Joyce and Lewis. The two are, of course, 
representative of a classical antinomy; Lewis himself was not neces- 
sary to suggest it. But he proved extremely useful to Joyce in im- 
plementing it in the context of philistine (like Mulligan) to artist, 
of extrovert to introvert, of the stone of permanence to the elm of 

There are a host of such uses throughout the book, from the 
moment when we first meet the two brothers as witness and accused 
in the early trial sequence that is to mirror the trial haunting Ear- 
wicker himself. Father's boy and ladies' man (Lewis replied by 
making Ratner cheaply popular with women), it is Shaun who 
tells the fable of the Ondt (space and the philistine) and the Grace- 

23. James Joyce, Stephen Hero (Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1944), p. 78. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 181 

hoper (time and the artist), which Lewis would have read in transi- 
tion for Mzivch 1928. 

Here we begin by learning that the Ondt (Lewis) thinks the 
Gracehoper (Joyce) is wasting his time by writing works like 
Ho, Time, Timeagen Wake! — "What a bagateller it is!" he says. 
The Gracehoper, like Joyce (and ironically like Lewis now), is 
"blind as batflea." He has "tossed himself in the vico" and signifies 
"chronic's despair." But after mildly accepting the Ondt's reproof, 
he says: 

''Your genus its worldwide, your spacest sublime! 
But, Holy Saltmartin, why can't you beat time?" ^^ 

So for our purposes the lesson of the fable is once more that Joyce, 
in the Gracehoper, can see Lewis' point of view, but Lewis, in the 
Ondt, refuses to see his. Joyce seems to have understood his "Windy 
Nous" rather well. 

Lewis is also useful to Joyce in the recurrent theme of plagiarism, 
built around the hidden, lost, or stolen manuscript of the Wake. 
Joyce must early have known how interested Lewis was in this; 
one of the main themes, if not the main theme, of "The Roaring 
Queen" (1936) is literary larceny. In the "Premver a promise of 
a pril" passage mentioned, for example, and referring to Eliot, 
"keepy little Kevin" (Lewis) is accused of plagiarism, but the ac- 
cusation is nearly always in reverse. In the "Shem the Penman" 
section there is a long passage on Shem's "pelagiarist pen" which 
has been responsible for so many "pseudostylic shamiana" and 
"piously forged palimpsests." Elsewhere I have alluded to Lewis' 
idea that his The Enemy of the Stars had been used by Joyce for the 
Circe episode of Ulysses, whereat in the Wake Jones accuses Alder- 
man Whitebeaver of plagiarizing his publications "to the irony of 
the stars." Later, when asked why he hates Shem so much, Shaun 
gruffly replies that one reason is "stolentelling" or "robblemint." 

24. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 419. 

182 Time 

Nathan Halper, meanwhile, beUeves he finds a suggestion in the 
Wake that the Time and Western Man attack is itself in reality 
indebted to the Nausicaa episode of Ulysses. La Calumnia, the snake 
of schlangder, grows in the garden! As any Joycean knows, one 
could be lured into almost indefinite attributions of this sort. There 
are probably scores of allusions to Lewis in the Wake that I have 
not mentioned; Kenner cleverly identifies references to Cantleman's 
Spring-Mate ("cattlemen's spring meat" and "gentlemen's spring 
modes"), and I should add that the situation is further complicated 
by the presence on the scene of Joyce scholarship now of a real-life 
Professor Jones, William Powell Jones, author of James Joyce and 
the Common Reader (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 
1955), to whom absolutely no reference is intended here, of course. 

I have instanced how Shaun-Lewis refuses to come to philosophic 
terms with Shem-Joyce. This is perhaps not quite so. Joyce seems 
to suggest, at the end of Professor Jones's refusal, that two men 
like Lewis and himself, so closely united in so many ways, should 
cease to quarrel, for were they not both admirers of Aristotle: "were 
we bread by the same fire and signed with the same salt, had we 
tapped from the same master"? Again, "we were in one class of 
age like to two clots of Qgg'' 

Nor is this suggestion of an appeal for truce an entirely isolated 
one. In accepting the Ondt's reproof, the Gracehoper says that 
they are really twins. And in Book iv the Professor, who had earlier 
asked for the time factor ("/// tempor") to be killed, is told to 
forget the controversy and have a drink. We are reminded that "in 
this drury world of ours, Father Times and Mother Spacies boil 
their kettle with their crutch." 

These reconciliations of Shaun and Shem haunt us from the 
Pegger Festy-Wet Pinter passages until we read Shaum, as the two 
turn into a unified twin hero, like Stephen and Bloom or, indeed, 
like Butt and Taff at the end of chapter 3 of Book ii who become 
"now one and the same person" But these resolutions remain 
philosophic and cyclic. The two touch — "equals of opposites" — 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 183 

only to whirl outward again. In "Shaun before the People" the 
audience asks Shaun: "have you not, without suggesting for an 
instant, millions of moods used up slanguage tun times as words as 
the penmarks used out in sinscript with such hesitancy by your 
celebrated brother?" Furiously Shaun denies kinship with such a 
creature ("always cutting my prhose to please his phrase, bogorror" 
and "wordsharping"). Shem's language is beyond all propriety. 
There then follows the famous parody on Joyce's own life, and then 
Shaun claims that he could do better in his brother's style "any 
time ever I liked" if only it were not "to infradig." Although this 
last reference is thought by some to come from a Gogarty-Stanislaus 
modulation, it would also serve as Lewis' answer to Shem-Dolph's 
earlier, similar question, "I cain but are you able." For at the end, 
when the fight is played out between St. Patrick (Shaun-space-day- 
outside-eye) and the Archdruid (Shem-time-night-inside-ear), the 
Joycean Archdruid puts forward the theory of epiphany ("obs of 
epiwo") and to this, in what Campbell and Robinson see as Joyce 
anticipating criticism, the Lewisian St. Patrick says, "Punc." ^^ Even 
Shaun, at the end, seems to relent a little: "I loved that man" he 
says echoing not so much Baudelaire as the use of that poet by 
EHot (through whom the two "equals of opposites" had come to- 
gether in the first place), "my shemblable! My freer!" But Shaun 
really dislikes Shem "For his root language." ^^ 

Even as cursory, and elementary, a resume of the controversy 
between Lewis and Joyce as this has been will serve to show that, 
in the words of HCE, "skirts were divided on the subject." There 

25. Ibid., p. 612. Surely Campbell and Robinson wax a shade oversubtle on 
this occasion, explicating the reference as follows: "Patrick's paragraph opens 
with the word Tunc,' i.e. Punkt, period, that's an end to it." Joseph Campbell 
and Henry Morton Robinson, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (New York, 
Harcourt, Brace, 1944), p. 351. Admittedly Punkt recurs throughout Uhsses, 
once in the form of the vast period or full-stop omitted from the Random House 
edition (p. 722), but the more homely levels of Joyce's prose should be borne in 
mind also. Patrick's "Punc" here, antiphonal to the usual Time, simply means 
that Patrick thinks the Archdruid's theory punk! 

26. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 424 {transition No. 12). 

184 Time 

are other aspects of the controversy, too, and that involving Lewis' 
attack on verbal experiment in literature will be considered below, 
in the chapter dealing with his satirical technique. Yet, why was 
Lewis so bitter? He knew Joyce, and I have tried to prove that 
he knew Joyce's beliefs. In the Paris notebooks there are hints that 
beauty is primarily of intellectual apprehension and, in sensitively 
elucidating these, H. M. McLuhan writes that "Joyce tends like Lewis 
to reject the way of connatural gnosis and emotion favored by 
Bergson, Eliot and theosophy, in which the emotions are used as 
the principal windows of the soul." And McLuhan adds, "Compared 
with Joyce, however, there is in Lewis a manichean abjurgation of 
delectation." ^^ But I have shown how in the V/ake Joyce asks pre- 
cisely this question of Lewis, through the personae of Shem and 
Shaun. "Root language" is scarcely a sufficient answer for such 
spleen. Joyce himself emerges from the controversy serenely im- 
partial and heroically generous. 

Above all, for his own sake, Lewis should not be judged by his 
supporters who, like Roy Campbell or Hugh Gordon Porteus (or 
even Geoffrey Grigson), have liked to see his work as a superior 
correction of Joyce's. The point is that Joyce had written a "time- 
book," a symptom of a social malady, and it is behind Joyce's work 
that we must look for what Lewis is attacking in the "mind" of 
James Joyce. It is Bergson who here stands at the root of all evil — 
"Bergson's doctrine of Time is the creative source of the time- 
philosophy." 2^ Bergson opposes "every form of intelligent life." 
He stands on the side of intuition, of the feminine, of flux, and is 
the spokesman, we read, of the way of life of the typical American 
businessman,^^ as well (elsewhere) as being connected directly 
with " *red' revolution." ^^ Pound (who called Bergson "crap" in 

27. Herbert Marshall McLuhan, "Wyndham Lewis: His Theory of Art and 
Communication," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/ Autumn 1953), 84-5. 

28. Time and Western Man, p. 166. 

29. Art of Being Ruled, p. 398. 

30. One-Way Song, p. 122. Although Lewis attacks Bergson alongside of Rus« 
sell, Russell himself was extremely critical of Bergson. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 185 

The Townsman), Benda, and Babbitt are all less concerned, like 
Lewis, to analyze Bergsonism than to denigrate it for its political 
repercussions. All accuse Bergson of allowing time (in the theory 
of "duree") to play havoc with space. In his Les Pangermanistes 
d'apres guerre, Seilliere likens Bergson to Spengler in this; ^^ here 
we have what we might call, in the case of the French, the German 
"smear." Massis' hatred of "asiatisme" was in less rabid writers a 
fear of the disintegrating philosophies of Keyserling and Spengler. 
Lewis adds little to this side of the Bergsonist debate, either on 
poHtical or aesthetic grounds. He agrees with Fernandez that "L'objet 
artistique resiste a toute tentative d'assimilation aux fantaisies du 
sujet." ^2 What Benda calls "I'esthetique du sujet" or "ipseisme" ^^ 
is simply Lewis' charge of the abandonment of perception for sensa- 
tion in Bergsonism. As he puts it in Time and Western Man: "Per- 
ception, in short, smacks of contemplation, it suggests leisure: 
only sensation guarantees action, and a full consciousness that 'time 
is money,' and that leisure is made for masters, not for men, or for 
the old bad world of Authority, not the good new world of alleged 
mass-rule." ^^ Restless intuition, excitable sensation, making events 
and objects transitory and subjective, threaten the static world of 
common sense, the realm of the intellect; so runs the argument. 
And it runs, may I say, over and over again through nearly five 
hundred pages of Time and Western Man to the point of total 
monotony, not to mention a "mental stutter" for which Lewis so 
derides Stein. This is one thing; it is quite another to associate Joyce 
with this viewpoint. When we know Joyce's aesthetic, such a charge 
cannot be considered serious criticism. It is not even good gossip. 
Its very extremism shows how far from the truth it is, for the further 
Lewis recedes from reality in his criticism the more eccentric his 
opinions become. If no one is listening to you, you have to shout. 

31. Ernest Seilliere, Les Pangermanistes d'apres guerre (Paris, Felix Alcan, 
1924), pp. 95-101. 

32. Fernandez, Messages, p. 27. 

33. Benda, Belphegor, p. 104. 

34. Time and Western Man, p. 412. 

186 Time 

No, what Lewis does is to make academically intolerable, and 
morbidly repetitive, Benda's Le Bergsonisme, first published in 1912. 
Time and Western Man is the English reply to Time and Free-Willy 
as Bergson's Essai sur les donnees was translated, and where we find 
the thesis that the intellect distorts reality if it unfolds everything 
in space. Both Benda and Lewis charge that Bergson, by denying 
knowledge of "mobilite" to the intellect, is poeticizing intuition, 
and desiderating action ("connaissance vive" in Benda's milder 
phrase) before consciousness ("connaissance de I'ahstraif). So 
Benda writes: "s'il est incontestable que 'nous qui regardons la 
ligne decrite par le mobile, nous ne sommes pas cette ligne,' re- 
ciproquement vous qui etes devenus cette ligne, vous ne pouvez 
plus la voir; s'il est incontestable que notre raison reste necessaire- 
ment 'a Fexterieur des choses,' non moins necessairement votre 
'installation a I'interieur des choses' a rompu tout commerce avec 
la raison." ^^ 

Let it be said, once and for all, that this is the summary of Time 
and Western Man. It is a pleasantly open charge, under which Lewis 
manages to indict a number of writers, but is Bergson guilty of it? 
Of course Bergson's philosophy suffers injustice at the hands of the 
neoclassicists and, in Lewis' case, injury is added to insult when 
we find him considerably indebted, as we shall, to Bergson's Le 

Certainly Bergson early put an unqualified emphasis on intuition, 
in its ability to attain metaphysical reality. We find this readily 
enough in his Introduction a la metaphysique, brought to England 
by Hulme: "II suit de la qu'un absolu ne saurait etre donne que 
dans une intuition, tandis que tout le reste releve de I'analyse." ^^ 
Intuition for Bergson is an effort of imagination and identification, 
of a kind often found in literature, an act of sympathy with and 

35. Benda, Le Bergsonisme, pp. 101-2, But in fairness to Bergson, see Bergson, 
L'Evolution creatrice, p. 260. 

36. Henri Bergson, "Introduction a la metaphysique," Revue de metaphysique 
et de morale, onzieme annee (Paris, Colin, 1903), p. 3. 

Master Joys and Windy Nous 187 

merging in the constant flow of "duree." In L' Evolution cr eat rice 
he defines "duree" as follows: "La duree est le progres continu 
du passe qui ronge I'avenir et qui gonfle en avangant." In Matiere 
et memoire he calls "le present pur" — "I'insaisissable progres du 
passe rongeant I'avenir." Thus the present tends to be a condensation 
of history, and memory is stressed as a vehicle for perception. In- 
tuition, to attain truth, must plunge into "la mobilite de la duree" 
and listen to the heartbeats of the soul. 

One can see how Lewis would honestly dislike this theory, for it 
is certainly an attack on what he calls the world of common sense: 
"L'etat, pris en lui-meme, est un perpetuel devenir." There is no 
Lewisian fixity. The state of objects in space must yield to their 
identity in memory — "notre caractere, toujours present a toutes nos 
decisions, est bien la synthese actuelle de tous nos etats passes." 
But here, in Matiere et memoire, Bergson tends to attack the fixity 
of space only in that it is sometimes considered as anterior to motion. 
Bergson will not allow this view because it carries with it, of course, 
connotations of quality, conferring ultimate truth on space rather 
than on time. 

Still, if one reads Bergson's section on intelligence and intuition in 
U Evolution creatrice, he cannot be considered anti-intellectual, 
certainly not so blindly and stupidly inimical to the intellect as Time 
and Western Man makes him out. In this work, in fact, Bergson 
concedes that the intellect may sometimes be superior to the instincts 
in apprehending reality, especially conscious reality, though he 
denies it ability to grasp the subconscious. Like Lewis, Bergson 
wants the intellect to operate "sur la matiere brute, en particulier 
sur des solides." He believes: ''Notre intelligence ne se represente 
clairement que Vimmobilite.*' ^^ But Bergson goes on to call this play 
of the intellect on static matter mechanical, and he will not, of 
course, allow the intellect a place at the head of the faculties. For 
Bergson, intellect should cooperate with instinct in apprehending 
reality. This Lewis would never echo. 

37. Bergson, U Evolution criatrice, pp. 167, 169. 

188 Time 

So Lewis, in common with his French neoclassical colleagues, 
pushes Bergson over into a position of leader of all the worst elements 
associated with romanticism. Such is the satire of Bergsonism in 
The Childermass. Such is intended in the characterization of Bertha 
in Tarr, for Bertha is an arch-figure of Romance, accompanied as 
she is by its fatalistic and disastrous effects. Bertha, who relies "on 
the authority of intuition," personifies the flabby, soft, emotional 
life. To take only one example, her face "withdrew with a glutinous, 
sweet slowness: the heavy white jowl seemed dragging itself out of 
some fluid trap where it had been caught like a weighty body." 

In contrast to this "time-world" Lewis claims to celebrate in Time 
and Western Man "the 'spatializing' instinct of man." He is trying 
to stimulate "a philosophy that will be as much a spatial-philosophy 
as Bergson's is a time-philosophy." This philosophy he everywhere 
associates with the Greek or Roman ("the world of greek philosophy, 
the pagan exteriorality" and "the God of the Roman faith"). It is 
"Classical Man" he says he is setting up against "Faustian," or 
modern Western Man, though he fails, unlike Lasserre, to make 
any distinction between the various Fausts here. Lewis' Faustian 
romantic is presumably Goethe's early Faust, striving for self- 
gratification. Since Lewis constantly claims that his philosophic be- 
liefs are of the classical persuasion, it is worth while seeing exactly 
what he means by "classical" before considering his satire. So the 
"time-philosophers" are defended by the anticlassical Bailiff of 
The Childermass: " 'We are not Greeks the Lord of Hosts be praised, 
we are Modern Man and proud of it — we of the jazz-age who have 
killed sexishness and enthroned sensible sex, who have liberated 
the working-mass and gutted every palace within sight making a 
prince of the mechanic with their spoils, we deride the childish state- 
craft, the insensitive morals, the fleshly-material art, the naif phi- 
losophy of the Hellene.' " ^^ 

38. Childermass, p. 261. 

Chapter i2: On the Side of Common Sense 

"I am on the side of commonsense . . . and my position, inasmuch as 
it causes me to oppose on all issues 'the romantic,' comes under the 
heading 'classical' . . . 'Classical' is for me anything which is nobly 
defined and exact, as opposed to that which is fluid — of the Flux." 
[Paleface, pp. 253-5.] 

In AN ADMIRABLY dispassionate article published in La Nouvelle 
Revue frangaise for January 1, 1929, the centenary of French ro- 
manticism, Ramon Fernandez analyzes neoclassicism in France and 
England. He finds the classical-romantic antithesis factitious today 
and admits the debt of the antiromanticists to the romantic move- 
ment. Fernandez, for instance, is fair enough to make a welcome 
reappraisal of Proust from this point of view, pointing out that the 
abundant intelligence and "jugement" in Proust's work must pre- 
serve it from any facile condemnation as romantic, or, in Lewis' 
phrase, as that "cheap pastry of stuffy and sadic romance, with its 
sweet and viscous sentimentalism, which was manufactured with 
such success by Proust." Fernandez, in company perhaps with 
Joyce of Finnegans Wake, wants to supersede the old antithesis. 
He ridicules the (Lewisian) idea of "inhumanite" as the primary 
characteristic of classical art and contends that if the neoclassicists 
have enjoyed contemporary success, it has been a personal one. 

Whether Fernandez is fair or not in his estimate of French neo- 
classicism, he is certainly borne out in England. In fact, he wrote 
his article conscious of the earlier discussion of this subject by 
Middleton Murry in The Criterion. Writer after writer on the 
classical side in England seems to find it necessary to restate the fruit- 
lessness of classical and romantic labels. For the Pound of The 

190 Time 

Spirit of Romance the terms are "snares." Eliot equally declines to 
accept the terms, in a work in which he likens classicism to orthodoxy 
and romanticism to heresy.^ Elsewhere Eliot finds the difference be- 
tween classical and romantic one between "the complete and the 
fragmentary, the adult and the immature, the orderly and the 
chaotic." ^ Although a declared "classicist in literature," and call- 
ing classicism in his review of Ulysses "a goal toward which all 
good literature strives, so far as it is good," ^ Eliot refuses to accept 
the labels in his editorials to The Criterion for June and September 
1927. In Men without Art Lewis does the same. All this is con- 
fusing enough, but it is not nearly so much so as the civil war that 
goes on within the English neoclassical camp. Joyce, while fulfilling 
almost every requirement of the contemporary classical writer for 
Lewis, is yet bitterly assailed by him. In the same work Lewis flays 
Pound as "a genuine naif ... a sort of revolutionary simpleton." 
Again in 1933 Lewis characterizes Pound as romantic: "Those 
snobbish baubles dived for by the scholar, silver-lip shells and those 
of the Smoky Beard, are pretty enough, but in the end they are as 
tiresome a bric-a-brac as the iron filings and scrap-iron of the fake 
factory school — though no one has made a better use of the Ocean 
bed of Time (where everything has suffered a sea change into 
something sumptuous and odd, however commonplace when it came 
to kick the bucket) than the indefatigable Ezra: and I should be 
one of his best customers, it is possible, like my friend Mr. Eliot, 
were not my tastes a little austerely 'classical.' " ^ Ezra replied in 
Guide to Kulchur.^ And in the same way Pound heaped scorn on 
one of his greatest admirers, T. S. EHot, both for his essay on 

1. Eliot, After Strange Gods, p. 26. 

2. Eliot, Selected Essays, p. 15. 

3. T. S. Eliot [review of James Joyce, Ulysses], The Dial, 75, No. 5 (Nov. 
1923), 482. 

4. Wyndham Lewis, " 'One Way Song,'" [sic] New Britain, 2, No. 30 (Dec. 13, 
1933), 121. The "fake factory school" probably refers to the New Signatures group 
of this time. 

5. Pound, Guide to Kulchur, p. 234. 

On the Side of Common Sense 191 

Jonson ^ and for The Criterion.'^ And we have seen that Eliot could 
not reinstate himself in grace by putting a Chinese jar in "Burnt 
Norton" or even by attacking "free-thinking Jews" in After Strange 
Gods, for Pound calls this latter work contaminated by the "Jewish 
poison." Not to be behind, Lewis sailed into Eliot in Men without 
Art as "The Pseudo-Believer" (I suggest that this is largely a re- 
ligious controversy, Eliot moving toward religion as Pound and 
Lewis move away from it). Here Lewis denies Eliot any sincerity; 
Eliot's classicism is a comedy, a sham, but then Eliot is "pseudo 
everything." ^ He is guilty of "dogmatic insincerity," of "confusions 
and inconsistencies," and is to be linked with the Naughty Nineties 
and the diabolism of Mario Praz.^ For Lewis, Eliot's radical ideas 
"show through the snobbish veneer." Lewis goes on to deplore "the 
essential muddle-headedness of this strange classicist and 'revolu- 
tionary' poet." It should perhaps be mentioned here, in passing, that 

6. Ezra Pound, How to Read (London, Desmond Harmsworth, 1931), p. 49. 

7. Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, p. 56. 

8. Men without Art, p. 77. 

9. Ibid., pp. 203-4. In his "Note to the Second Edition" of The Romantic 
Agony (Oxford University Press, 1951) Mario Praz defends himself against Lewis' 
reference to the book in Men without Art. But it will be found that Praz quoted 
Lewis' offending passage more accurately in The Times Literary Supplement for 
August 8, 1935. In the Note Praz complains that Lewis calls his compilation a 
" 'gigantic pile of satanic bric-a-brac, so industriously assembled, under my direc- 
tion [?], by Professor Praz.'" In Men without Art (p. 175), however, we read 
rather, "this gigantic pile of satanic bric-a-brac, so industriously assembled, under 
my directions (cf. The Diabolical Principle, etc.), by Prof. Praz." In his article 
on the classical revival in The Bookman for October 1934 Lewis calls The 
Romantic Agony "the historical dossier for my 'Diabolical Principle.' " In fair- 
ness to Lewis I should add that I have examined the manuscripts of this book 
in the Carlow Collection and the words "under my directions" do not appear 
in the handwritten MS. The suggestion of relationship Lewis wished to show was 
apparently concertinaed in galley proof. In galleys, also, he inserted a recommenda- 
tion to read Praz's book, which is indeed highly praised on p. 171 of Men without 
Art. Praz was obviously stung by the references to this matter in Montague Sum- 
mers' The Gothic Quest and Stephen Spender's The Destructive Element. But it is 
hardly likely that Lewis would want to call a work like The Romantic Agony 
his own. 

192 Time 

Hugh Kenner assumes that this attack on Eliot was really just a 
huge joke, a "fantasia ... as funny as anything in that chef 
d'oeuvre of polemic comedy The Diabolical Principle." In all hon- 
esty I cannot help feeling that this can safely be put down to 
sophistical whitewashing (perhaps rather similar to the same critic's 
allegation that Joyce was simply pulling Stuart Gilbert's leg in let- 
ting Gilbert think he was writing an authorized explanation of 
Ulysses). The attacks in Men without Art appeared as anything 
but funny to the recipients: Hemingway is said to have been infuri- 
ated by his, while a glance at A V/r iter's Diary will show just how 
deeply wounded Virginia Woolf was by the "fantasia" about her. In 
Enemies of Promise Cyril Connolly quite independently — Virginia 
Woolf, after all, had referred to Connolly's "cocktail criticism" — 
called Men without Art "bullying and unfair." As regards Joyce, 
Harry Levin in his book on that author refers to "the malice of 
Wyndham Lewis" in attributing the origin of Bloom's meditations 
to the diction of Alfred Jingle; a recent study of Joyce by Marvin 
Magalaner and Richard Kain also refers in this context to "the 
malicious retorts of Wyndham Lewis," and considers Lewis' attack 
on Joyce's sources as "the most malicious." None of this really mat- 
ters very much, however, for one can virtually say that in an article 
in The Bookman at this time Lewis finds bogus classicism in every 
neoclassicist except himself. Faced with this internecine warfare, 
then, between writers one would normally imagine in perfect har- 
mony, one can sometimes simply ask oneself if one is standing on 
one's head or one's heels. Yet this internal strife, matched in France 
to some extent perhaps over the Action Frangaise affair, does seem 
to bear Fernandez out. Hugh Kenner may claim that "Pound, Eliot, 
Joyce and Yeats mark ... a return to the Aristotelian benison," 
but it is an individual return, a personal success. 

Lewis would have agreed with Yeats that Aristotle was "Sol- 
ider," ^^ but it would be incorrect to think of his classicism — tel 

10. W. B. Yeats, "Among School Children," The Collected Poems of W. B. 
Yeats (London, Macmillan, 1934), p. 244. There is a corrupt American edition 
giving "Soldier Aristotle.'* 

On the Side of Common Sense 193 

quel — as exclusively Hellenic. It is as well to mention this since 
French neoclassicalism tends to seek its authority in three periods, 
precisely the periods given by Sir Herbert Grierson for classical in 
his famous lecture of 1923, namely Periclean Athens, Augustan 
Rome, and the France of Louis XIV. Maurras, for whom to be a 
Roman was to be human and who early apostrophized Minerva, sees 
his classicism as Roman, Hellenic, and Catholic: "Dans I'ere 
moderne, la philosophie catholique se modele de preference sur 
Aristote; la politique catholique s'approprie les methodes de la poli- 
tique romaine. Tel est le caractere de la tradition classique. L' esprit 
classique, c'est proprement Fessence des doctrines de la haute hu- 
manite. C'est un esprit d'autorite et d'aristocratie." ^^ 

In Mise au point Lasserre has a chapter called "Le Destin de 
rOccident," in which he claims, "il n'y a cause plus juste et plus 
belle que celle de la culture intellectuelle et esthetique greco-latine." 
And Lasserre goes on to rally Frenchmen to their Hellenic heritage: 
"Enfin n'abusons pas du bel exercice qui consiste a deployer des 
drapeaux oil s'inscrivent ces mots superbes d'Occident, d'hellenisme, 
de latinite, d'esprit frangais . . . Soyons nous-memes: occiden- 
taux, latins, grecs, frangais." ^- Even Peguy equates the classical 
Greek with the French genius, in opposing to both the romantic 
German. The point of noting this here is to show how Lewis' 
graphic interests severed him from this view. The French fear of 
"asiatisme" (the yellow peril) is never translated in Pound, Lewis, 
or Hulme,^^ simply because these men admired Oriental art. Massis, 
on the other hand, finds the enemies of classicism Germany and the 
Orient — "la culture greco-latine n'est done pas pour I'Allemand 
une valeur fondamentale de civilisation." ^^ Spengler and Keyser- 

11. Maurras, Romantisme et revolution, p. 270. 

12. Lasserre, Mise au point, p. 100. But Lasserre goes on to counsel against 
an excess in this direction. 

13. For a convenient definition of Hulme's terminology in this respect, see 
Murray Krieger, "The Ambiguous Anti-romanticism of T. E. Hulme," ELH: A 
Journal of English Literary History, 20, No. 4 (Dec. 1953), 300-14. The definitive 
study of Hulme to date is undoubtedly the exhaustive, but currently unpublished, 
Columbia doctoral dissertation on him by Clifford Josephson. 

14. Massis, Defense, pp. 65-6. 

194 Time 

ling combine these elements for Massis, and it is interesting that in 
Time and Western Man Lewis pays relatively little attention to 
Spengler's supposedly "asiatic" romanticism. In fact, what Lewis 
does is to defend the ancient Orient against Spengler, claiming that 
Spengler distorts this civilization, "making Buddha swallow his 
words, and Confucius learn to play the ukelele." Seilliere, however, 
in his Les Origines romanesques de la morale et de la politique ro- 
mantique, traces the origins of romanticism to early Japan! 

For Lewis classicism is antiromanticism. Consequently it is elas- 
tic in its particular definitions. The romantic he ceaselessly defines 
as the unreal, the philosophy of the day-dreaming Many. But in his 
chapter on the terms in Men without Art, and in his article on the 
classical revival in The Bookman, he uses a number of words in 
connection with the two. A brief listing of these may summarize his 











solid, defined, 


misty, muddled 














feeble, gloomy, sick 

indifferent to 

originality * 

love of novel sensations 



* In the sense that the classical spirit for Lewis interprets the Zeitgeist, rather 
than forming this for itself. 

I have excluded the term Hellenic from the classical category above 
because though Lewis admires the Hellenes he also writes, "my 
'Classical' is not the Hellenic Age, as it is Spengler's." In Men with- 

On the Side of Common Sense 195 

out Art he actually admits that he looks to ancient Egypt or Japan, 
rather than to Hellas, for his classicism. This was the Worringer- 
Hulme influence, but I would also venture a guess, namely that Hel- 
lenic classicism is more the expression of a corporate society than 
Oriental "classicism," and for that reason less likely to appeal to 
men like Hulme and Lewis. Grierson, on the other hand, finds this 
very love of expressing one's society a criterion of true classicism. 
At first it appears that Lewis approaches Hulme's view of the 
matter (nor must we be put off by Lewis' charge that Hulme was a 
romantic,^^ for this is explained by Hulme's Bergsonism). The two 
certainly have much in common here. And on some points Babbitt 
joins them. Hulme, however, proposed "two conceptions of the na- 
ture of man." The first comprised man from St. Augustine until the 
Renaissance, the second from the Renaissance to the present day. 
Of course, the very term Renaissance is elastic, Professor Haskins 
arguing cogently for a renaissance in Italy in the twelfth centuiy, 
but as Hulme uses "humanist" constantly for the second period, one 
presumes he must be thinking of the start of the quattrocento, the 
period of classical studies in Italy, of Petrarch and Boccaccio, and 
of the development in painting from Giotto and Cimabue. The first 
of Hulme's periods believed in original sin, the second did not. The 
first, the Middle Ages, was characterized by absolute values, the 
doctrine of original sin, and belief as the center of civilization. For 
Hulme this period expresses itself ideally in Byzantine art (usually 
considered from about a.d. 395 until the capture of Constantinople 
by the Turks in 1453). Austerity, rigidity, and disgust with living 
shapes are the leading traits in this art, Hulme tells us. The second 
period is the reverse of this. It is "vital." Far from being subordinate 
to absolute values, man now takes pleasure in an art and culture 
which reproduce human and natural forms, in which "all the emo- 
tions expressed are perfectly human ones," in other words the art 
of Einfuhlung. For Hulme this is toto caelo wrong. "The humanist 

15. Wyndham Lewis, '"Classical Revival' in England," The Bookman, 87, No. 
517, (Oct. 1934), 10. 

196 Time 

canons are, I think, demonstrably false," he writes, and again, "I 
hold the religious conception of ultimate values to be right, the hu- 
manist wrong." ^^ 

Like Worringer, Huhne finds Egyptian and Byzantine art anti- 
"vital," and in fact opposed to the rot that set in with classical man 
— in the case of Byzantine art, with classical values as resurrected 
by the high Renaissance. Yet it need not confuse us when Huhne 
calls for a "classical revival," as he does, since he here uses the 
term as a correction of romanticism, and one inclusive of the quali- 
ties of his first period. Classical man is, thus, a "fixed and limited 
animal whose nature is absolutely constant." It is this clarion call 
in Speculations which draws Hulme's classicism to that of the Ac- 
tion Frangaise (which Hulme explicitly admires). In other words 
one has to approach Hulme's classicism as a theory of two kinds, 
artistic (that of Worringer) and political (that of Maurras). 

Hulme, indeed, breaks his second period ("humanist") down 
into two parts; contemporary romanticism, which is horrible ("like 
pouring a pot of treacle over the dinner table"), is an ignoble de- 
generation of man's interest in man of the Renaissance days. This 
latter was at least free, Hulme feels, from utilitarianism. It is this 
distinction, within Hulme's broadly "humanist" era, that makes 
it faintly possible for him to accept Bergson's theory of art, es- 
pecially in what he calls its ''life-communicating quality," which 
would otherwise seem to be everything Hulme despises. There are, 
of course, other, possibly more serious contradictions in Hulme's 
classicism. For me Hulme's outstanding defect is that he fails to ex- 
plain why his "humanist" period (leading to "the state of slush in 
which we have the misfortune to live") ever came about, if the 
previous values, of the medieval period, were so absolutely superior. 

The most damaging evidence, however, for the irrelevance of 
neoclassicist philosophy comes forward when these thinkers choose 
practical examples of their theories. In his notes on Sorel's Reflec- 
tions on Violence Hulme classes Sorel as "classical in ethics." Hulme 
is just able to justify this by associating Sorel with his first period 

16. Hulme, Speculations, pp. 31, 70. 

On the Side of Common Sense 197 

of civilization by means of "the conviction that man is by nature 
bad or limited," scarcely a qualification we all care to see in our 
political theoreticians. Lewis finds a similar interpretation of the 
"classical" in another contemporary Nero, writing that "The Hitler- 
ist dream is full of an imminent classical serenity." ^^ And Maurras, 
in Vers I'Espagne de Franco, found the same "politique classique" 
in the Spain of el Caudillo. After this sort of thing, how easy it is 
to be persuaded by Benda who, in Belphegor, finds French neo- 
classicism "le romantisme de la raison" and a "besoin de I'excessif." 

But if Benda turns the tables on the neoclassicists, the Germans 
complete the ruin. For here are — horresco referens — men like 
Ernst, Lublinski, Karl Joel, and others obviously enjoying classi- 
cism. And the chief weakness in the French attack, more flagrant 
than the neglect of classical elements in their own literature of the 
nineteenth century, was to deny the classical to a country which 
produced the author of their virtual manifesto — "Classisch ist das 
Gesunde, Romantik das Kranke." 

Nowhere is Lewis' ignorance more exposed than here, in his ab- 
surd attack on the pan-German nature of "romanticism." A mere 
glance through Albrecht Soergel's historiography of contemporary 
German literature will at once reveal a stronger neoclassical move- 
ment than has existed in England since Lewis took up his pen. 

The circle around Stefan George exemplified, as is well known, 
a kind of neoclassicism (including, in some of George's early 
poems, Lewisian Caliphs, Crowd-masters, hero-artists, and Padi- 
shahs) that later proved far too romantic for most Anglo-Saxons. 
Moreover, George (Jahrbuch der geistigen B ewe gun g) has at- 
tacked music more roundly than Lewis. Yet in many respects 
George was what Jethro Bithell has called "a Mallarmean Parnas- 
sian," and it is rather in others like Paul Ernst, Wilhelm von Scholz, 
Rudolf Pannwitz, and Samuel Lublinski that we find the bulk of 
Lewis' so-called "classicism" either anticipated or paralleled in the 
Germany it derides. 

What is more, the creative side of these writers bears remarkable 

17. Hitler, p. 184. 

198 Time 

affinity with some of Lewis' satire. The tragic hero of Ernst's dramas 
of the first decade of the century, such as Demetrios or Brunhild, 
is to reappear later in Lewis' work, while the theoretical aspects of 
Lewis' neoclassical attack may also be found in these Germans. 
Ernst's glowing admiration for Klassizismus, as well as for Oriental 
literature ("Die chinesische Novelle hat die hochste Kultur"), is 
representatively seen in his Der Weg zur Form, a work with which 
neither Lewis nor Pound could properly disagree. ^^ For Ernst here 
the great work of art is an act of will; he inveighs against false 
feeling, adulates Greek drama with its order and form, and com- 
pares the German stock with the Greek and Roman (as Maurras 
does with the French, as a matter of fact). Indeed, if there be any 
national bias in Ernst's work, and it is a dull one to reread today, 
it is in its reversal of Lewis' accusations as to the racial origin of 
the romantic spirit. In one passage Ernst thinks with evident dis- 
tress from "unsere klassische Dichtung" to "die franzosische Revolu- 
tion" and reverses Maurras in a sentence such as: "Das franzosis- 
che conscience ist weniger als das lateinische conscientia." One 
other work by Ernst, Der Zusammenbruch des deutschen Ideal- 
ismus, might also be brought up in this context. Throughout this 
collection of studies of the drama, addressed to the youth of the 
time and liberally peppered with platitudes, Ernst adulates the 
Greeks of the past — for their "form," ^^ their application to 
reality, their understanding of what is true tragedy ("jenseits der 
Leidenschaft"). Samuel Lublinski's Die Entstehung des Juden- 
tums: Eine Skizze, or his foreword to Tsar Peter, mirrors these 
ideals. But what is particularly interesting in Ernst's Klassizismus 
is its growing suspicion of contemporary religious concepts — 
indeed its paganism (to be found in one interesting chapter on Don 

18. Paul Ernst, Der Weg zur Form (Miinchen, Georg Miiller, 1928), pp. 
305-6, gives a characteristic definition of classicism and romanticism for the 
Germans of this group. 

19. Paul Ernst, Der Zusammenbruch des deutschen Idealismus (Miinchen, 
Georg Miiller, 1918), p. 100, perhaps best defines what the author means by 
this word. 

On the Side of Common Sense 199 

Carlos) — which, of course, makes Ernst more than ever a pre- 
cursor of Lewis and Pound (not to mention Hitler) rather than 
of the contemporary French neoclassicists. 

Lublinski, who wrote a sympathetic study of Ernst in 1913, and 
an Ernstian drama Gunther und Brunhild in 1908, published a 
rousing attack on the "Neuromantik" at this time in his Der A usgang 
der Moderne: Ein Buch der Opposition, Like Ernst, Lublinski 
finds "die grosse und heroische Personlichkeit" going under be- 
fore the tide of hypersensitive romanticism. Further, Lewis' 
propaganda against the youth cult can be found here in Lublinski's 
fears that romanticism reduces us to children, even in the political 
sphere. ^^ 

One final admirer of Paul Ernst might very well be mentioned 
here, and that is Georg Lukacs, a sometime member of the George- 
kreis and now a leading Marxist critic (indeed, Ernst roundly as- 
sailed "biirgerliche Gesellschaft" with all the other writers of this 
group from the start) . Perhaps the most interesting essay in Lukacs' 
early Die Seele und die Formen is that on Ernst himself, entitled 
"Metaphysik der Tragodie." The whole of this essay breathes the 
spirit of contemporary German neoclassicism. Lukacs here finds the 
"Neuromantik" uncongenial to drama (it is "ein poetisches Dumpf- 
werden des Menschen"), and he concludes with a stirring tribute 
to Ernst's Brunhild: "sein erstes 'grieschisches' Drama. Das erste 
entschiedene Verlassen des Weges, den das grosse deutsche Drama 
seit Schillers und Kleists Tagen ging: des Vereinens von Sophokles 
und Shakespeare." The play, for Lukacs, is full of a simple, Greek 
monumentality: "Auch die Haltung und die Worte seiner Menschen 
sind in ihrem tiefsten Wesen griechisch, ja vielleicht . . . grie- 
chischer als die mancher antiken Tragodie"! ^i 

20. Samuel Lublinski, Der Ausgang der Moderne: Ein Buch der Opposition 
(Dresden, Carl Reissner, 1909), pp. 54 ff.; cf. also the chapter on "Politik," pp. 

21. Georg von Lukacs, Die Seele und die Formen (Berlin, Egon Fleischel, 
1911), pp. 350-73. At p. 354 Lukacs momentarily confuses Kriemhilde with 
Brunhild, and there is virtually a direct quotation from Ernst unacknowledged 

200 Time 

Finally, for Karl Joel the classic of Goethe and Schiller, marked 
by health, is ethos ("Herrschaft des Ethos"), while the romantic of 
the sick Holderlin, who championed Kronos, is pathos. Forgiving 
Joel his rather Teutonically watertight compartments, the classi- 
cism of his Wandlungen der Weltanschauung is Lewis' classicism. 
For above all Joel stresses that the classicist is not caught up in the 
flux of time. He must be above time: "Doch damit stellt sich der 
Klassiker eben iiher die Zeit." ^^ The romantic spirit, on the other 
hand, Joel sees in continual flux ("Strom"), going from extreme to 
extreme, regarding historical movement as the most important: "In 
der Romantik siegt Dynamik iiber alle Statik." ^^ If one adds Joel's 
classicism to Hulme's, one has a fairly good working hypothesis of 
what Lewis predicated by the term. For Hulme, admiring Bergson, 
did not particularly pit classicism against flux; but for Joel, as for 
Lewis, the nineteenth century was the century of change, of irre- 
sponsible pantheism (the "Naturgott" ) , of the inharmonious mar- 
riage between "Gott und Natur, Tragodie und Satyrjauchzen, Macht- 
trieb und Massenhingabe." As against this pathetic romanticism: 
"Wahrlich, der Idealismus der klassischen Epoche war keine 
Ausschweifung des Geistes, kein Schwarmen der Seele, kein schwel- 
gender Selbstgenuss wie im Zeitalter der Empfindsamkeit, sondern 
ein ethischer Kampf, eine schwere Selbstziigelung, eine ergreifende 
Selbsterziehung." ^^ Of course, I must not give my reader the im- 
pression that the French neoclassicists criticize only the Germans as 
romantic. Far from it. In Le Romantisme jrangais Lasserre finds 
Hugo and Benjamin Constant chiefly responsible for the "naufrage 
romantique" of the nineteenth century. And Lasserre's catalogue 

at the foot of p. 333. Lukacs' subsequent development is possibly evident here in 
his longing for an absolute form, his dislike of "unsere demokratische Zeit," and 
of excessive individuality in general. Cf. "Nur fiir eine abstrakt absolute Idee des 
Menschen ist alles Menschliche moglich" (pp. 347, 370-1). 

22. Karl Joel, Wandlungen der Weltanschauung (Tiibingen, Mohr, 1934), 2, 

23. Ibid., p. 349. 

24. Ibid., p. 279. 

On the Side of Common Sense 201 

of romantic characteristics is similar to Joel's. It is worth quoting, 
as a breviary of all those traits opposed to what Lewis means by the 
classical: "Ruine psychique de I'individu, eudemonisme lache, 
chimerisme sentimental, maladie de la solitude, corruption des pas- 
sions, idolatrie des passions, empire de la femme, empire des ele- 
ments feminins de I'esprit sur ses elements virils, asservissement au 
moi, deformation emphatique de la realite, conception revolution- 
naire et devergondee de la nature humaine, abus des moyens ma- 
teriels de I'art pour masquer la paresse et la misere de I'inven- 
tion . . ."25 

This, in a nutshell, is "time-philosophy" for Lewis. "Organic," 
"Faustian," "musical," "apocalyptic," "feminine," "dynamic," it is 
a philosophy he opposes in a series of negatives. Indebted to Speng- 
ler,2^ indebted to Bergson, he borrows from his enemies, inverting 
their convictions. For his is not a positive philosophical approach. 
It is what can be summarized as Stopping the Rot. And so he writes: 
"We fly to the past — anywhere out of this suspended animation of 
the so smugly 'revolutionary' present. Out of the detestable crowd 
of quacks — illumines, coueists, and psychologists — that the wealthy 
death-bed has attracted, and who throng these antechambers of de- 
feat; from all the funeral furnishers, catafalque-makers, house- 
agents, lawyers, money lenders, with their eye on the Heir of all the 
Ages, we fly in despair." ^^ 

25. Lasserre, Romantisme frangais, pp. 311-12. 

26. In The Canadian Forum for June 1936 H. N. Frye briefly but persuasively 
outlines Lewis' indebtedness to Spengler, especially in Lewis' rather obviously 
similar anti-Bohemianism and in his sweeping "cultural consciousness" approach. 

27. Art of Being Ruled, p. 25. 

Chapter 13: A Thief of the Real 

"It is as thieves only — a thief of the real — that we can exist, or as para- 
sites upon God." [Time and Western Man, pp. 397-8.] 

Lewis has often been called a Thomist in all but name, and it 
would not do to conclude a summary of his philosophic beliefs 
without a mention of this. However, Geoffrey Stone, analyzing 
Lewis' ideas at the end of 1933, singles out his antagonism to reli- 
gion as the chief point differentiating him from his French and Eng- 
lish colleagues in the neoclassical movement. Stone seems to me 
perfectly correct, and once more, when Lewis' ideas engage with 
religion, we see why he has been called "Mister Ivory Tower." 

For Lewis supposes the presence, if not of a deity, at least of 
some supernatural power, whose representative on earth is the in- 
spired artist, or "person": "The Sistine Chapel Ceiling is worthy 
of the hand of any God which we can infer, dream of, or postulate. 
We may certainly say that God's hand is visible in it." ^ 

The "sense of personality" ("the most vivid and fundamental 
sense that we possess") is delegated from the divine, and especially 
manifested in that feeling of separation and nobility felt by the 
artist. Lewis' God is the "supreme symbol" of "person"-hood; he 
is, in fact, literally a "personal God." ^ Thus the only part of our 
experience with which we may construct God is the intellectual, 
and to this art has the prerogative. "God is for us something to 
think, not feel." ^ At once we see how he differs from the Christian 
for whom emotional experience may give access to God. 

1. Time and Western Man, p. 401. 

2. Ibid., p. 463. 

3. Ibid., p. 397. 

A Thief of the Real 203 

It is not oversimplifying Lewis' beliefs to say that for him intel- 
lectual and artistic faculties may alone fix for us the divine. Art is 
the supreme expression of God in our lives. And naturally he must 
quarrel violently with the Protestant ethic where "God has become 
merged in everything, the Kingdom of Heaven is running about 
inside every individual thing in a fluid ubiquity." This ignoble idea 
that every man may be entitled to grace leads Lewis, of course, to 
furious, repetitive attacks on Protestantism. It is hardly necessary 
to rehearse these diatribes, which reiterate the notion of a vindictive 
Christ, of a vitiating love of the "common good," and of Bible- 
socialism resulting in despotic totalitarianism. It is amusing, in 
passing, to note the paroxysms to which John Milton drives these 
humanitarians. In Comus, Lewis writes, Milton has made chastity 
worse than obscene and so is either being stupid or malicious. (In 
fact, the Lady in Comus expresses the principle of intellectual lib- 
erty motionless in the whirlpool of Comus' sensual rout that is pre- 
cisely Lewis' Vortex: nor was Milton's position at the end of his 
life far from favoring an elite of Christian humanists.) Roy Camp- 
bell writes that Milton "in Comus attacks female virtue." ^ What 
Eliot calls Milton's "moral aberrations" ^ — so different, one sup- 
poses, from the "decorum" of Launcelot Andrewes' private life ^ — 
drive Pound to loathe Milton, to a "disgust with what he has to say, 
his asinine bigotry, his beastly hebraism, the coarseness of his men- 
tahty." ^ Milton, Pound elsewhere puts it, "shows a complete ig- 
norance of the things of the spirit." ^ This bias can frequently be 
found in Lewis' fiction and it is principally on this score, for being 
"a Calvinist moralist," that he criticizes Faulkner.^ In the Protes- 

4. Campbell, Broken Record, p. 157. 

5. Eliot, After Strange Gods, p. 35. 

6. Eliot, Selected Essays, p. 299. 

7. Pound, Pavannes and Divisions, p. 202. 

8. Pound, Polite Essays, p. 200. 

9. There is a reference to Vorticism in Faulkner's early sketch Mirrors of 
Charles Street, dated February 8, 1925, and William Van O'Connor even suggests 
that Faulkner may have been influenced by the "literary applicability" of Vorticism. 

204 Time 

tant code, in short, Lewis can find no "compensating beauty such as 
you get in the great catholic mystics." 

This is as far as Lewis approaches the Catholic position. "We 
should support the catholic church perhaps more than any other 
visible institution," he writes in Time and Western Man, and in 
Paleface he adds, "I find myself naturally aligned today, to some 
extent, with the philosophers of the catholic revival." Even in the 
recent Rotting Hill he considers that a purely Catholic Europe 
might still today provide a "practical and orderly society" rather 
than "the rabid indiscipline of parties." (Yet how often does he 
quote Montaigne's remark that a free government is "toujours 

In the chapter at the end of Time and Western Man called "God 
as Reality," his lengthiest consideration of this matter, he categori- 
cally denies the Catholic position. There are two main reasons v/hy 
he is "unable to subscribe" to Catholicism. The first is that it looks 
too much to the past, and is therefore "as irretrievably 'historical' 
as the doctrine of Spengler." Under this charge Lewis specifically 
indicts Thomism — "to rely upon St. Thomas Aquinas at such a 
juncture . . . would prove in you a meagre sense of the reality." 
Maritain is here "a frantic, hallucinated, 'soul'-drugged individual." 
But let us allow that Maritain by no means advocates a return to the 
past, at least not in the sense Lewis imputes to him. He has openly 
stated that it would be ridiculous to try to relive the Middle Ages 
again today. ^^ 

The second reason why Lewis denies the Catholic creed is clearly 
aesthetic, and it is shared, rather more intelligently, by Fernandez. 
For Lewis sees the Catholic removing man's eyes from the base 

I observed one parallel passage: at the end of Rotting Hill Roy Campbell is seen 
walking "as if the camp were paved with eggs"; at the end of the earlier Light in 
August Byron Bunch "goes on toward the truck, walking like he had eggs under 
his feet." In passing, too, one might note a mention of Gaudier-Brzcska in Faulk- 
ner's recent A Fable (1954). 

10. Maritain, Humanisme integral, pp. 149-51. Cf. Time and Western Man, 
p. 387, and The Writer and the Absolute, p. 37. 


A Thief of the Real 205 

world of matter and fixing them on the world beyond. This he calls 
"irreligious." He is able to do so, if we allow his view that our "god- 
like experience" results only from a feeling of separation of the 
"person" from the "thing." In other words, matter provides part of 
the religious experience for Lewis, or at least of that experience by 
which we duplicate God's relation to us. "We are surface creatures 
... It is among the flowers and leaves that our lot is cast." Only 
by the play of the intellect on the surface of things, Lewis is saying 
here, can we know the divine, only, in short, by being artists. Natu- 
rally, as I hardly need to point out, this cuts across the Catholic 
view of redemption, and across the whole Christian conception that 
God reveals Himself, if He wishes, to us all. Lewis says that He does 
not: "I, of course, admit that the principle I advocate is not for 
everybody . . ."Exactly. 

Fernandez puts this dislike of Thomism on a far more reasonable 
level. He objects that the religious outlook fails to provide a stable 
objective world (Eliot's "objective correlative") for the apprehen- 
sion of the aesthetic sensibilities: "L'objet, comme I'ombre d'un 
corps aux differentes heures du jour, tantot s'etend devant le sujet, 
tantot s'evanouit en lui." ^^ It is this that makes religion a "time- 
philosophy" for Lewis. Maritain's humanism, though based on hu- 
man dignity and the rights of individual man, is concerned to place 
God at the center of our lives, to make God our sole court of appeal, 
a God to be apprehended for Maritain through the emotions as 
through the intellect. He is concerned, as he puts it, to make life 
"theocentrique" rather than "anthropocentrique." For Maritain 
Lewis' religion is guilty of the sin of pride, of the "anthropocen- 
trique" heresy, for here (with God as a sort of superintellectual and 
artist) the Deity has become simply the guarantor of man's power 
working out his own destiny on earth. Maritain's "humanisme in- 
tegral" is an attempt to put man in touch with God again, but to do 
so by means of accepting the absolute and heroic values incarnated 
in the Middle Ages. 

11. Fernandez, Messages, pp. 26-7. 

206 Time 

In the recent Self Condemned the hero Rene calls himself "a 
friend of Farm Street" (i.e. of the famous Catholic Church there), 
but this may be his French background. For undeniably Lewis sees 
religion as a sort of art, as he sees politics in aesthetic terms. "Laugh- 
ter is . . . our 'god-like' attribute," he writes, in connection with 
satire, and one does not have to push him far to find him claiming 
that God is really a sort of supersatirist! Reference to the world of 
common sense, to known objects and facts, is essential to the work- 
ing of art in Lewis' mind, as it is to Pound's "ideogrammic method," 
and so he refuses to allow a religion like the Catholic which re- 
moves our gaze from this world. We are most fully conscious, our 
faculties as human beings supremely extended, inasmuch as we are 
exercising our intellects. And the field where this faculty itself can 
operate at its best is the solid world of objective common sense. It 
is this play, a current sent out from the brain and flashing on the 
world of static reality, that is the highest form of life for Lewis and 
our nearest approach to the Godhead. We can now watch it at 
work in his fiction. 


"Satire is the great Heaven of Ideas, where you meet the titans of red 
laughter; . . ." [The Wild Body, p. 235.] 

Chapter 14: The Immense Novices 

"These immense novices brandish their appetites in their faces, lay 
bare their teeth in a valedictory, inviting, or merely substantial laugh 
. . . This sunny commotion in the face, at the gate of the organism, 
brings to the surface all the burrowing and interior broods which the 
individual may harbour." ["Note on Tyros," The Tyro No. 1, p. 2; also 
"Foreword: Tyros and Portraits," Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings 
and Drawings by Wyndham Lewis (London, Leicester Galleries, April 

Wyndham Lewis' first publication, called "The Pole" in The 
English Review for May 1909, has been variously described. In 
South Lodge Goldring tells us that Lewis presented himself at 84 
Holland Park Avenue to find Ford in the bath, where he proceeded 
to read him "The Pole," not omitting to introduce himself as a man 
of genius. The story was instantly accepted. In fact, the last is the 
only part confirmed by Ford who says he took Lewis' story after 
reading the first three lines. ^ Elsewhere calling Lewis "D.Z." (and 
describing him as the swarthy, saturnine figure with tall hat and 
long hair that others provide for the Lewis of this period). Ford 
claims that "Poles" (as he calls it) was produced in manuscript 
form from all over Lewis' person, even from next his skin. He goes 
on to tell us that, offended at a suggestion that he should turn en- 
tirely to writing, Lewis presented himself at the office of The Times 
Literary Supplement and threatened to horsewhip the editor, should 
that gentleman be so unwise as to give Ford any of Lewis' books to 
review. 2 It is the first part of this story that Hugh Kenner gives us 

1. Ford Madox Ford, // Was the Nightingale (Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1933), 
p. 323. 

2. Ford, Return to Yesterday, pp. 388-91. 

210 Satire 

at the start of his study of Lewis; however, it is as well to remember 
that his contemporaries mistrusted Ford. Both David Garnett and 
Richard Aldington mention Ford's terminological inexactitudes, 
the latter writing that "strict veracity was not his strong point." ^ 
In his biography of Conrad, Gerard Jean-Aubry calls Ford "a 
pathological liar." And I should here perhaps mention in passing 
that in the Berg Collection of manuscripts at the New York Public 
Library there are letters from Lewis to the famous literary agent 
Pinker, showing that Lewis had already completed a novel by Janu- 
ary 1910. He refers to this novel as Khan and Company and sug- 
gests using the pseudonym James Sed for it; later Lewis was to set 
his lawyer on Pinker. Certainly, however, The English Review 
saw the publication (after rejection by Blackwood's) of Lewis' first 
satire and there is an affectionate reference to the review in Tarr. 

Although Goldring says the above incident (which he embellishes 
in Odd Man Out) took place "towards the end of 1909," ^ the story 
was printed in May. From this date on the group of stories now 
gathered under the title The Wild Body began to appear in The 
English Review, Goldring's The Tramp, The Little Review, and 
Art and Letters. They comprise Lewis' earliest work. Pound, in fact, 
introducing "Inferior Religions" in The Little Review for Septem- 
ber 1917, says that the entire collection was "in process of publica- 
tion" when war broke out. They were not published in book form 
until December 1927 by Chatto and Windus, but two letters from 
Lewis to Martin Seeker in my possession, dated March 3 and 4, 
1925, show him trying to make arrangements for publication of the 
volume under the general title of The Soldier of Humour. 

It is interesting to establish the fairly early origin of The Wild 
Body stories for in them we already find a theory and practice of 
satire from which Lewis never swerved. The later satires enlarge his 

3. David Garnett, The Golden Echo (London, Chatto and Windus, 1954), pp. 
37-8; Richard Aldington, Portrait of a Genius, But . . . (London, Heinemann, 
1950), p. 71. 

4. Douglas Goldring, Reputations (New York, Seltzer, 1920), p. 135; and cf. 
Douglas Goldring, Odd Man Out (London, Chapman and Hall, 1935), p. 100. 

The Immense Novices 211 

scope, but there is nothing in The Wild Body which his subsequent 
practice contradicts. The ideal structure of satire is here from the 

First, it must be remembered that in these early stories "humour" 
is usually satire. Lewis detests humor, of the cosy or Punch variety 
In Blasting and Bombardiering he tells us that Blast allotted the first 
"blast" to humor. He is wrong; humor is given the fifth "blast" as 
"Quack ENGLISH drug for stupidity and sleepiness." Coffman 
rather carelessly observes that Blast blessed humor. Humor is given 
the third "bless" in Blast No. 1 but only when in the hands of 
Shakespeare and Swift, i.e. as satire. Blast No. 1 calls humor "Arch 
enemy of REAL" and "a phenomenon caused by sudden pouring 
of culture into Barbary." Blast No. 2 reaflirms this emphasis: "The 
English 'Sense of Humour' is the greatest enemy of England." This 
second issue of Blast attacked Punch under this head (a charge 
repeated by Eliot in The Sacred Wood). And Lewis has kept up 
this dislike of the English "grin" until the present day.'^ 

Book IV of The Mysterious Mr. Bull, devoted to "The Sense of 
Humour," further clarifies this dislike. Humor, we learn here, is 
something you do to yourself; it is a delightful dope, based on eva- 
sion of reality, which can be used as a political weapon to keep the 
masses quiet. It is, in brief, a subjective, romantic tool. So Tarr tells 
Butcher that humor and pathos (Joel's Romance) are the same. 
Satire, on the other hand, presupposes change and reforms society. 
It does something to you. It is accordingly hated by the indolent 

Lewis finds Shaw the perfect example of this kind of English hu- 
mor. The many attacks he makes on Shaw boil down to the charge 
that Shaw evades reality and creates "safe" lovable characters that 
take the mind off any real social change. St. Joan is "the swan-song 
of english liberalism staged for the post-war suburbs of London." ^ 

5. Left Wings, pp. 296-7; Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 42; Rude Assignment, 
p. 104. 

6. Art of Being Ruled, p. 56; and cf. Blast No. 2, p. 9; One-Way Song, p. 48; 
The Enemy No. 3, p. 91; Rude Assignment, p. 202. 

212 Satire 

A feature of the onslaught Lewis makes on humor is that it is an 
especially English failing (like "playing the game"). Tarr tells 
Butcher this. Calling humor the "inveterate enemy of anglo-saxon 
mankind," Tarr says: " The University of Humour — that is what it 
is — that prevails everywhere in England for the formation of youth, 
provides you with nothing but a first-rate means of evading real- 
ity.' " This section of Tarr is expanded in the second edition, where 
we find Tarr saying: " 'Humour . . . does paralyze the sense for 
Reality, people are rapt by their sense of humour in a phlegmatic 
and hysteric dream-world, full of the delicious swirls of the switch- 
back.' " 

There are many, many other such references. From the start of 
his literary career Lewis approaches satire as the correction of vice, 
as well as of folly, and as dissatisfaction with the Zeitgeist, or social 
status quo, rather than acceptance of it. In short — "wherever there 
is objective truth there is satire." "^ So one can say that the function 
of satire, as of graphic art, for Lewis is to depict reality. 

Yet there are various kinds of satire. Here he makes two princi- 
pal definitions. In "classical" (presumably Hellenic and Roman 
here) satire the abstract, or quintessence, of a vice is pilloried, and 
it is on this level that the spectators are involved. Although admit- 
ting that Jonson of course created dramatic individuals, Lewis feels 
that the Jonsonian "humour" is the caricature of impersonal vice, 
of a human flaw common to all. It is the reverse of the caricature of 
a politician in a contemporary newspaper, which is attached to a 
definite leading individual. Lewis does not pass judgment on the 
"classical" form of satire, but in calling The Apes his only "pure" ^ 
satire I think he is suggesting that he regards this book as nearest 
to classical satire. It is so, in that "humours," endemic to the human 
animal, are ridiculed. Now it will at once be objected that The Apes 
certainly chose recognizable adversaries from our midst. This is true, 
but these are selected as representatives of "humours," and The 

7. Rude Assignment, p. 48 (he says the same also on p. 46). 

8. Ibid., pp. 52-3. 

The Immense Novices 213 

Apes is not only aimed at contemporary vice in the way that The 
Childermass, The Revenge for Love, and Tarr tend to be. If asked 
to pick out Lewis' most Jonsonian satire, I would without doubt 
select The Apes. 

But the modern satirist, Lewis pleads, must engage with reality 
on both abstract and concrete levels. That is to say, since Fielding 
— with whom satire in creative fiction begins for Lewis — the sati- 
rist's function is not only to caricature a "humour," it is to expose 
recognizably contemporary vice. Like Flaubert, he says, the mod- 
ern satirist must show up his age far more than his classical ante- 
cedent was required to. To this end contemporary satire must be 
disinterested and cruel. It must be violently destructive. In Men 
without Art, which reprints parts of the important pamphlet Satire 
and Fiction, Lewis tells us that satire is degraded if it becomes 
moral, (a) because moral judgments are constantly changing and 
in flux, and (b) because ethics, as today tied to theology, should be 
eschewed. This raises a point. 

Throughout his later pronouncements on the theory of satire 
Lewis constantly asserts that it must be amoral. "I am a satirist . . . 
But I am not a moralist." And so on. Yet of course he is a moral- 
ist, in the sense that the urge to change the status quo, which avow- 
edly prompts his satire, has a moral intention. One presumes that 
Lewis is exposing the evils in our society by means of satire in an 
effort to correct them. But what he clearly desires is that satire 
should not be "edifying." Any overt connection with a system of 
contemporary morality, especially one embedded in a religion, will 
vitiate the work of art for Lewis. It will soften it and make it in- 
effectual. ''Perfect laughter, if there could be such a thing, would 
be inhuman," he writes. To succeed satire must have a painful effect 
and, in passing, I should warn the reader that Lewis generally 
(though not always) refers in "laughter" to satire. However, in the 
early stories, he uses all these terms loosely. Ker-Orr, the "soldier 
of humour," is really a soldier of satire. 

This satire must magnify ("in an heroical manner") small areas 

214 Satire 

of reality; its characterizations must be vast, to occupy space; as he 
put it in an article in The London Mercury for October 1934, "in 
Satire you reach the great classic lines of the skeleton of things." ^ 
Satire, he again reminds us here, gives objective truth, the truth of 
natural science — "satire is the 'truth' of the intellect." ^^ 

As regards the cruelty of this satire, Lewis from the first sees him- 
self as "an artist in destruction." This conceit he described nicely 
in a newspaper article: "there was Pancho Villa, with his best friend 
always on his hip — his gun, that is. (When I read that I put my 
hand to my breast-pocket and stroked my stylo.)" ^^ This is exem- 
plified by Ker-Orr, the central figure of The Wild Body. Ker-Orr is, 
we notice, a soldier of humor; for laughter and the militant are al- 
ways close in Lewis' satire. Ker-Orr likens himself to Don Quixote. 
He is to be found "manoeuvring in the heart of the reality," and 
when he finds life his inclination is "to make war on it and to cher- 
ish it like a lover, at once." "Everywhere where formerly I would 
fly at throats, I now howl with laughter." It might be said that 
Bestre, of this book, combines manslaughter and man's laughter 
in his formidable eye, a combination also found in Beresin, a char- 
acter of another story, "The War Baby." Tarr talks about his eye 
as his shotgun. Ker-Orr says: "Violence is of the essence of laugh- 
ter (as distinguished of course from smiling wit): it is merely the 
inversion or failure of force. To put it in another way, it is the grin 
upon the Deathshead." ^^ 

What transpires from Ker-Orr's complicated explanations is that 
"laughter," or satire, is an attack on life, or "reality," forcing the 
laugher to become detached, to become artistic ("Any master of 
humour is an essential artist" ).^^ In other words, laughter is a lib- 

9. Wyndham Lewis, "Studies in the Art of Laughter," The London Mercury, 30, 
No. 180 (Oct., 1934), 511-12. 

10. Ibid., p. 511. 

11. "What It Feels Like to Be an Enemy," Daily Herald, No. 5082 (May 30, 
1932), p. 8. 

12. Wild Body, p. 158. 

13. Ibid., p. 239. He uses "humour" here to connote satire, of course. 

The Immense Novices 215 

erating force, a revelation of reality cleansing the organism and 
keeping the "thing," or primitive, at bay. Naturally, the primitive 
will provide the pabulum of satire, for by contrast the intelligent 
laugher will have a heightened sense of separation. It is thus sig- 
nificant that Lewis chose for the setting of his first stories a primi- 
tive Breton community. The Wild Body, that is, is Lewis' only 
satire that gives us real primitives to laugh at. Subsequently we are 
to be asked to laugh at intellectual primitives, persons whom we 
must agree to see as "things" owing to their (idiotic) ideological 
convictions. But in these early stories Lewis was clearly fascinated 
by the primitive Breton peasants he had met (and some of this ma- 
terial appeared as factual articles in The Tramp ) , because they de- 
fined for him certain literary values. This is well borne out in the 
tragic story "The Cornac and His Wife." 

Ker-Orr explains that the primitive Breton peasant usually de- 
signs his laughter to wound. That is, his comic sense does not rise 
above his circumstances or environment; it remains one with them, 
brutal as his everyday existence in the fields, brutal even in its ne- 
cessity for revenge on this life. This is one form of laughter, cruel 
laughter torn out of a truly primitive state. But the educated man, 
Ker-Orr continues, uses this same comic sense to transcend his en- 
vironment; he is conscious, in other words, of necessity. This is 
what Ker-Orr means when he calls the educated man a greater real- 
ist than the common peasant, for in him a philosophic under- 
standing, or imaginative appreciation (as in the artist), of the ex- 
ternal world enables him to get at the essence of reality. His laughter 
feeds on the primitive and, by revealing reality to him, removes him 
from the primitive condition. "It is a realistic firework, reminiscent 
of war," Ker-Orr says. Like a firework, it transcends the human 
condition and explodes, as it were, in derision at such primitivity. 

This realization, the fruit of experience on his travels coming 
soon after having heard Bergson's lectures on laughter at the Col- 
lege, led Lewis to a fundamental dichotomy, basic to his entire 
theory of satire: "First, to assume the dichotomy of mind and 

216 Satire 

body is necessary here, without arguing it; for it is upon that essen- 
tial separation that the theory of laughter here proposed is 
based." ^^ 

This "separation," which we find in Matiere et memoire, is be- 
tween "person" and "thing," Nature and puppet, between true man 
and machine, between Not-Self and Split-Man, between, finally, 
the intellect, or "laughing observer," and "Wild Body." In the sec- 
tion of the work entitled "The Meaning of the Wild Body" Lewis 
tells us it is impossible for us humans to leap this gap between being 
and "non-being." Indeed, such an effort of self-observation as this 
would entail might be disastrous: "We are not constructed to be 
absolute observers." In 1950 he repeats this: "No person, of course, 
is capable of perfect detachment: the effort to attain it would dam- 
age the observation." But it is in this dichotomy that the comic is 
located: "The root of the Comic is to be sought in the sensations 
resulting from the observations of a thing behaving like a person." ^^ 
If we reverse this statement, as Lewis does in the example he gives 
following this remark, we have Bergson's words in Le Rire: ''Nous 
rions toutes les fois qu'une personne nous donne Vimpression d'une 
chose." ^^ Because of this superficial reversal, McLuhan claims that 
"His theory of the comic as stated in The Wild Body is the exact 
reverse of the Bergsonian theory of laughter." I cannot agree with 
this. Lewis' theory of the comic, here, is distinctly Bergsonian, with 
surface variations, and vagaries. 

As his chief example of the comic in this sense Lewis provides the 
picture of a man running for an underground railway train and just 
catching it in time, the comic effect being produced by the sight 
of his eye (intellect) in contrast to his body, which resembles a sack 
of potatoes. This sight, a Kantian incongruity, is as funny, Lewis 
says, as a cabbage reading Plutarch. "The deepest root of the Comic 
is to be sought in this anomaly." ^Mt is the anomaly of the "thing" 

14. Ibid., p. 243. 

15. Ibid., p. 246. 

16. Bergson, Le Rire, p. 59. 

17. Wild Body, p. 247. 

The Immense Novices 217 

trying to behave like a "person," the fat man catching the train try- 
ing to be as deft and calculating as his eye, which is coolly spectator 
of the operation. However, since we know that Lewis regards the 
main mass of mankind as things, or "Appropriate dummies," ^* we 
can also say that the comic comes equally from a "person" behaving 
as a "thing" (though an element of tragedy is present here). Lewis 
himself suggests this in The Wild Body; the comic result arising 
"because the man's body was not him" is a reciprocal affair. After 
all, the "person" finds himself provided with a body in this world. 
He must at times watch this "sack of potatoes" acting in a "thing"- 
like manner, as much as the "thing" making for the train feels his 
eye watching his own manipulations. In The Wild Body stories, 
however, the dichotomy is usually effected outside the character. 
That is, none of the peasants presented (except possibly Bestre) 
really act as "persons." It is their clash with the intellect in the 
person of Ker-Orr that provides the satire. In later works the comic 
dichotomy is presented within character. All the apes of God are 
essentially "things" trying to be "persons," or artists. Yet, although 
Ker-Orr has this special role in The Wild Body then, he also fulfills 
another function which Lewis seems to consider a necessity in all 
his satire, namely that of "showman." ^^ 

It was necessary, of course, if the "thing" -like peasants of these 
stories were to be artistically compelling, for Lewis to have some 
intermediary. This intermediary is the reasonably rational man 
Ker-Orr, who lends an added dunension to the scene and by means 
of whom we are enabled to communicate: "To introduce my pup- 
pets, and the Wild Body, the generic puppet of all, I must project a 
fanciful wandering figure to be the showman to whom the antics 
and solemn gambols of these wild children are to be a source of 
strange delight." 

In Rude Assignment Lewis calls Ker-Orr "ringmaster of this 
circus" and, indeed, one of the principal stories in the book con- 
cerns a circus. We must not think that the "showman" is the Not- 

18. One-Way Song, p. 94. 

19. Wild Body, pp. 232-50. 

218 Satire 

Self. If he were, we the readers would be unable to communicate 
through him. He is, rather, a particularly intelligent human being, 
someone aware of the comic (or tragic) dichotomy. Ker-Orr tells 
us that his approach to life is a sort of detachment midway between 
his body, or "gut-bag," and intellect, or his eyes, his "two bright 
rolling marbles . . . bull's-eyes full of mockery and madness" — "I 
hang somewhere in its midst operating it with detachment." ^^ So 
Ker-Orr is qualified to observe the clash between "person" and 
"thing" in his own nature, unlike the others. Unlike them, but like 
all the other showmen Lewis creates. Thus Ker-Orr talks about 
his two selves, his two "me" 's; Lewis has done the same. Rene of 
Self Condemned "lived in two compartments." Tarr also has this 
theory of the two selves in man (which we find, again, in Bergson's 
Essai sur les donnees), admitting " 'Half of myself I have to hide.' " 
Ker-Orr is the first of Lewis' showmen. Lewis must early have 
found this intermediary indispensable to the kind of satire he wanted 
to write, for he has always retained him. So we are told of Tarr, in 
the subsequently excised Egoist Ltd. Prologue: "Tarr is the indi- 
vidual in the book, and is at the same time one of the showmen of 
the author." ^^ Arghol is the showman in The Enemy of the Stars, 
Zagreus in The Apes. Pierpoint, the master mind behind the scene 
in this latter satire, is more the Not-Self, or totally detached individ- 
ual (so detached he never actually appears in the work). Zagreus 
is undoubtedly our means of communication; indeed, does he not 
act as showman, conjuror at Lord Osmund's, spiriting Dan away? 
In The Revenge for Love the Spanish gaoler Don Alvaro Morato 
enters the stage first and is a sort of showman, with his "clowns," 
the Communist prisoners. This "socratic turnkey," like most of 
Lewis' showmen, is gifted with strong eyes. Percy Hardcaster calls 
him " 'a lynx-eyed old devil,' " ^2 and he sees through the first "false 

20. Ibid., pp. 3-5. 

21. Tarr (Egoist), p. x. 

22. Revenge for Love, p. 19. Hardcaster threatens my theory by calling Alvaro 
false, in one place. But he may be lying here, as he later lies about Alvaro to 
Gillian. Eventually he says that Alvaro wsls " 'rather a fine man in his way.' " 
{Revenge for Love, p. 203). 

The Immense Novices 219 

bottom" in the book, the peasant girl's basket. Don Alvaro's eye, 
likened to a "bull's-eye" in one place, is reminiscent of Ker-Orr's 
"marbles." Snooty Baronet, yet another showman, also has eyes 
that shine like "marbles of freshly polished glass." Snooty fre- 
quently, perhaps too frequently, talks about himself as a showman, 
with the ridiculous characters Val and Humph as his "puppets." 
The narrator of Rotting Hill is another showman, as are, to some 
extent, Cantleman and the Enemy — while Shakespeare, Lewis al- 
leges, was the supreme showman in this sense.^^ Here is Arghol 
playing this role in Lewis' play: 

Arghol. Existence. Loud feeble sunset — blaring like lump- 
ish savage clown, alive with rigid tinsel, tricked out in louse- 
infested pantaloons, before a misty entrance, upon the trestled 
balcony of a marquee, announcing events in a stale pro- 
gramme of a thousand breakneck sports — ... a showman 
who bellows down to penniless herds, their eyes red with stu- 
pidity, crowding beneath him clutching their sixpences. ^^ 

23. Lion and the Fox, p. 171. 

24. Enemy of the Stars, pp. 18-19. The jacket of this publication claims that 
the first version of the play, which appeared in Blast No. 1, influenced Joyce in 
his Circe episode in Ulysses. Lewis suggests this himself in various places (e.g. 
Time and Western Man, p. 127), and Hugh Kenner supports the contention 
(Kenner, Poetry of Pound, p. 75). I have not personally been able to find any 
serious entertaining of this notion. There is no copy of Blast No. 1 in Joyce's 
extant library as exhibited in Paris in 1949, though Joyce owned a copy of The 
Caliph's Design. Mr. Frank Budgen kindly tells me that Joyce lent him a copy of 
Tarr in ZUrich, but that he never saw any copy of Blast No. 1 in Joyce's pos- 

In a letter to John Henry Quinn, dated January 7, 1921, Joyce says "Circe" is 
finished and being typed (there is a memoir in support of this from Mr. Sykes, 
Joyce's typist, in the Special Collections of the New York Public Library). The 
Slocum-Cahoon bibliography refers at p. 141 to the Circe MS as being in a notebook, 
and the Paris La Hune Catalogue confirms that this notebook was bought in Trieste 
(See No. 259 under "Les Oeuvres"). Yet, as Joyce tells Quinn that he wrote this 
episode nine times over, the notebook is likely to have been only one MS. 

My own textual comparison, such as it is, reveals no real indebtedness on 
Joyce's part to The Enemy of the Stars, though both writers have in common 
verbal vitality and a certain distortion of presentation. Joyce could equally be 

220 Satire 

We do not, it is true, find a showman (unless it is Hyperides) in 
The Childermass, but this satire is exceptional. In The Vulgar 
Streak Vincent Penhale once more plays this role and ends, like so 
many of these characters, violently — Arghol is stabbed by Hanp, 
Hanp ending by drowning. The showman's function is the central 
one of observing and putting on the platform for us "things," pup- 
pets, or "wild bodies," creatures of such primitivity that they are no 
more than animal machines. The life of these creatures is so rigid, so 
circumscribed, that it takes on the character of religious ritual. It 
resembles the dance of an inferior religion. We recall Havelock 
Ellis claiming that Homer tried to convey the feeling of life at high 
tide as a dance. 

The cryptic and arcane section of The Wild Body, called "In- 
ferior Religions," where Eliot saw genius and Pound found "the 
most important single document that Lewis has written" in 1917, 
is to be interpreted this way. Lewis himself tells us it explains his 
title, thus answering the puzzled contemporary reviewer of The 
Times Literary Supplement. What it says is no more than that today 
the majority of mankind, unwilling and unable to act as "persons," 
is condemned to go through a routine of life which is like a carica- 
ture of religious ritual. In Rude Assignment Lewis tells us that he 
called his first writings "Inferior Religions," and writing to Lord 
Carlow with the Chatto and Windus edition of The Wild Body he 
explains this more clearly. 

So in The Mysterious Mr. Bull we find Lewis calling humor "one 
of the Englishman's inferior religions." It is an obsession. And what 

said to have been influenced in this last by Jarry's Ubu Roi. Who knows? V^at 
is interesting, however, is to find Joyce's answer to the charge of plagiarism in 
Time and Western Man. Professor Jones accuses Alderman Whitebeaver of 
plagiarizing his publications, of being "a barefooted rubber with my supersocks 
pulled over his face which I publicked in my bestback garden for the laetification 
of siderodromites and to the irony of the stars" (Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 160). 
William Frierson believes that "Lewis used many of Joyce's effects." William C. 
Frierson, The English Novel in Transition (Norman, Okla., University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1942), p. 269. 

The Immense Novices 221 

we find in these early stories is a number of fanatics possessed of 
obsessions, to which they are enslaved. This is the meaning of the 
"Wild Body." For these "creaking men machines . . . involved in 
a monotonous rhythm from morning till night" are possessed by 
some "set narrow intoxication" that deprives them of liberty. They 
are slaves ("abnormal") in the way he told us, in Paleface, the Ro- 
man res was a slave, or a lion, or a wild bee. All these are at the 
mercy of social or instinctual drives similar to a pseudoreligion: "I 
would present these puppets, then, as carefully selected specimens 
of religious fanaticism." ^^ So the Frenchman, of "A Soldier of Hu- 
mour," is intoxicated by, and enslaved to, his desire to be more 
American than Americans (a prescient critique, perhaps). The 
"Poles" are clearly at the mercy of their particular state of life, ex- 
ile inducing a kind of poetic and parasitic indolence. Carl is en- 
slaved to the "stupid madness, or commonplace wildness" of his 
crude appetites, Zoborov of the same story to his fight with Made- 
moiselle Peronette for the Beau Sejour pension. "The odious brown 
person of Bestre" is devoted to the absurd ritual of his ocular war- 
fare with the painter Riviere, while the Cornac, with his wife and 
"haggard offspring," are slaves of their "implacable grudge" against 
their public, a "death struggle" with a brutally peasant audience 
which nightly longs for them to break their necks. 

Although Lewis gives other interpretations in "Inferior Re- 
ligions," the above are the chief sources of these characters. Help- 
lessly impelled by some uncontrolled wish, they turn into mecha- 
nisms, "shadows of energy, not living beings." The stories at the 
end of the collection, and drawn from more educated levels of so- 
ciety, do not refute this analysis. In "You Broke My Dream" (a skit 
on J. W. Dunne, who is mentioned at the end of Self Condemned) 
a, character called Will Blood, formerly Will Eccles in The Tyro 
No. 1, wakes up and — "The play begins." Life for these machines 
is stifled to a charade. They are not really living at all; they are 
novices, or Tyros — indeed, the religious pun is perhaps intended 

25. Wild Body, p. 234, 

222 Satire 

here. Lewis defines a Tyro as "An elementary person: an elemental 
in short ... a puppet worked with deft fingers with a screaming 
voice underneath." ^^ And what else does Bergson require of a 
comic character in Le Rire than this? 

In this work comic rigidity, produced in a character by "des 
mouvements de pantin," is what Bergson thinks funny. The laugher 
looks on at his comic character as at "une marionette dont il tient 
les ficelles." ^^ There is no difference between Bergson and Lewis 
here. "Machines," "insects," "things," these are the satirist's ma- 
terial for Lewis and he has never had more of it on hand than 
today! Hazlitt, in The English Comic Writers, finds it a failing in 
Ben Jonson that his characters are so like "machines." Lewis finds 
this Jonson's strength. Only the detaching power of unholy laugh- 
ter can free us from the spurious philosophies of our day, for Lewis; 
only such laughter can reveal to us man as he truly is: "Laughter 
is the brain-body's snort of exultation." ^^ It is objective truth since 
it shows us, as can nothing else, man's egoisms and absurdities. It 
is not, apparently, concerned with revealing man's kinder qualities, 
though these (one might argue) form part of human reality. 

This animality, the "thing"-like condition, which acts like a tonic 
on Lewis' satiric gift and which is seen at its most endearing in The 
Wild Body, is described by Bergson in UEvolution creatrice as fol- 
lows: "Ce qui constitue I'animalite, disons-nous, c'est la faculte 
d'utiliser un mecanisme a declanchement pour convertir en actions 
'explosives' une somme aussi grande que possible d'energie po- 
tientielle accumulee." ^^ 

In Le Rire there are, of course, many ideas which any satirist 
might be expected to hold: the idea of the indifference ("insensi- 
bilite") of satiric laughter as opposed to the benevolence of humor, 

26. Tyro No. 1, p. 2. 

27. Bergson, Le Rire, pp. 143, 202. 

28. Wild Body, p. 238. 

29. Bergson, UEvolution creatrice, p. 130. 

The Immense Novices 223 

the need for some human target for laughter to be truly affective, 
these are two. And there are distinctions to be made between Lewis 
and Bergson here; when Bergson writes of our laughter being the 
laughter of a group, Lewis would probably say this was humor 
rather than satire. But Bergson is speaking in a sociological, rather 
than literary, sense here; laughter, he suggests, is a social gesture 
which knits us together, usually against a character who is comic 
by being antisocial And Lewis would not accept any more readily 
Bergson's conception of the comic in words and sentences. Beyond 
such minor reservations, Bergson's Le Rire is a primer of Lewisian 

For Bergson man becomes funny when the "elan vital" runs 
down in him, or when he deliberately arrests it. When this happens 
he atrophies to a machine and we laugh at "un effet de raideur" or 
"raideur de mecanique . . . ou Ton voudrait trouver la souplesse 
attentive et la vivante flexibilite d'une personne." ^^ This rigidity — 
"Automatisme, raideur, pli contracte et garde" — is the basic comic 
deformity for Bergson, as it is for Lewis. It is a lack of conscious- 
ness, of human awareness — "Le comique est inconscient" — which 
is actually corrected by laughter: "Cette raideur est le comique, et 
le rire en est le chatiment." ^^ 

This idea, of the retarding of the "elan vital" to the status of 
machine, is also given in Matiere et memoire, but Bergson develops 
it fully in Le Rire. One example he gives of such mechanical rigidity 
is an assassin getting out of a train and thereby infringing local com- 
pany rules. It is interesting that Lewis also uses a train episode to 
illustrate his comic theory in The Wild Body. In Le Rire the formula 
for laughter is summarized as follows: ''Les attitudes, gestes et 
mouvements du corps humain sont risibles dans Vexacte mesure oil 
ce corps nous fait penser a une simple mecanique.'' ^- 1 have already 

30. Bergson, Le Rire, pp. 4-10. 

31. Ibid., pp. 17, 21. 

32. Ibid., p. 30. 

224 Satire 

quoted Bergson's emphasis on the "pantin," a word that recurs 
throughout Le Rire. Here, in this character ("mecanique plaque 
sur du vivant") we have the Wild Body; Bergson even suggests that 
the comic artist accomplishing this effect is classic! So Bergson lends 
Lewis his comic type, "la transformation d'une personne en chose." 
But he does more. For the rigid automatism and "distraction" of 
the comic type also furnish the comic situation or theme: "Le 
comique est un cote de la personne par lequel elle ressemble a une 
chose, cet aspect des evenements humains qui imite, par sa raideur 
d'un genre tout particulier, le mecanisme pur et simple, I'automa- 
tisme, enfin le mouvement sans la vie." ^^ A rigid mechanism in 
human affairs, Bergson says, also produces a comic effect similar 
to that produced by rigidity in the human personality. What he calls 
"distraction" (absent-mindedness, or lack of awareness) produces 
a logic of the absurd in events as in men. As well as informing us 
that they were based on paintings, ^^ Lewis tells us that the charac- 
ters in The Wild Body are "little monuments of logic." Bergson 
even mentions Don Quixote, with whom Ker-Orr feels affinity: 
"Toute distraction est comique . . . Une distraction systematique 
comme celle de Don Quichotte est ce qu'on pent imaginer au 
monde de plus comique." ^^ 

Thus, Bergson says, a function of comedy is to restore awareness 
to the human animal and to society. It must wake men up, stop 
them living in dreams. The only point on which Lewis could quar- 
rel with Le Rire is the "insociabilite" of the comic, for what Lewis 
castigates is too much sociability. Bergson, however, sees the comic 
in a generous spirit, uniting mankind, whereas Lewis sincerely feels 
that today the satirist's function is to disrupt the group-rhythm 
and startle the individual out of it. 

So I must conclude that nearly all Lewis' basic convictions about 

33. Ibid., p. 88. 

34. "Wyndham Lewis," Beginnings [by various hands], cd. L. A. G. Strong 
(London, Thomas Nelson, 1935), p. 98. 

35. Bergson, Le Rire, p. 148. 

The Immense Novices 225 

satire are found in Bergson. If this shows anything, it surely shows 
once again what an inspiring teacher Bergson must have been, and 
how cathoHc a mind to have inspired artists as dissimilar as Lewis 
and Proust. It may be that Bergson owes this comic theory to Kant 
or Nicole, but he lent it directly to Lewis, with minor exceptions. 


Chapter i^: A Failure of Energy 

"A comic type is a failure of a considerable energy, an imitation and 
standardizing of self, suggesting the existence of a uniform humanity 
— creating, that is, a little host as like as ninepins." [The Wild Body, 
pp. 235-6.] 

In Rude Assignment Lewis admits that his later satire grew out of 
Bestre and Brotcotnaz of The Wild Body, and if so this must be in 
the development of the comic type, for there are few hints in these 
stories of the kind of theme he was to find comic. Naturally, how- 
ever, the comic theme grows out of the comic type, as Bergson ob- 
served in Le Rire. 

The satiric type for Lewis must excite disgust, as he feels Jon- 
sonian characters do, rather than cosy laughter. The comic type is 
a "thing," machine, or puppet (Bergson's "pantin"), a failure in 
intellectual energy and thus a robot governed by routine — for "All 
difference is energy." Nearly all the characters of the early stories 
Lewis wrote act out a hollow charade, as their creator thinks most 
men do today. Roland, in the story "A Breton Innkeeper," "never 
departs from his role of buffoon," while Le Pere Francois, in the 
story of this name used for the later "Franciscan Adventures," 
equally has his "role'' to play, as again has Pringle in "Unlucky for 
Pringle." ^ To those of us engaged in this charade that is life, the 
picture presented of our activities will seem to be a deformation, 
and such deformation, giving true reality, is exactly what Benda 

1. Wyndham Lewis, "A Breton Innkeeper," The Tramp (Aug. 1910), p. 411; 
Wyndham Lewis, "Le Pere Frangois (A Full-Length Portrait of a Tramp)," The 
Tramp (Sept. 1910), p. 518; Wyndham Lewis, "Unlucky for Pringle," The Tramp 
(Feb. 1911), p. 413. 

A Failure of Energy 227 

asks of the inspired intelligence in Belphegor. In Lewis' case this 
deformation is founded both on the puppet-like rigidity required by 
Le Rire and on Cartesian animal automatism. 

I have mentioned this above. Animal automatism is one aspect 
of the seventeenth-century war between the mechanists and vital- 
ists and it is well covered by Leonora Rosenfield in her From Beast- 
Machine to Man-Machine. Descartes was not the first, as Miss 
Rosenfield shows us, to be fascinated by the regularity of animal 
behavior, but under the growing pressure of scientific discovery in 
his age, especially of physiological discovery, he took the idea ahead 
and drew reactions to it from other thinkers. Briefly, one may say 
that in the Cartesian metaphysic soul is identified with reason. The 
author of cogito, ergo sum meant that we exist inasmuch as we rea- 
son consciously. Descartes came to deny such conscious reasoning, 
and so free will, to animals: "Ex animalium quibusdam actionibus 
valde perfectis, suspicamur ea liberum arbitrium non habere." - 

The perfectly mechanistic physiology Descartes observed in 
beasts made it seem unlikely to him that they were capable of 
thought; and although he did not apparently deny that beasts "ex- 
isted," as might Lewis, they were for him (a practicing Catholic, 
after all) closer to plants, and matter, in the great chain of being, 
than to human beings, and spirit. There are hints in the Discours de 
la methode that a machine in the shape of an animal was no differ- 
ent, in Descartes' eyes, from the animal itself, and he actually 
planned to construct such beast-machines. What worried him, and 
other mechanists engaged on this side of the controversy, like Fon- 
tenelle, Gassendi, and the early Henry More, was that beasts evi- 
dently felt pain. Father Nicolas Malebranche, a partisan of animal 
automatism, kicked a pregnant bitch, and it yelped. Descartes met 
this difficulty by proposing that dogs felt a pain that was different 
in kind from human pain, being merely corporeal and therefore 

2. Rene Descartes, Oeiivres de Descartes, piiblies . . . sous les auspices du 
Ministere de I'Instruction Publique, ed. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery (L. Cerf, 
1897-1913), 10, 219. 

228 Satire 

still mechanistic. In Les Passions de Vdme he further developed the 
idea that perceptions are of two sorts, from the soul and from the 
body. Animals did not have souls. Yet men certainly had bodies, 
and the "machine du corps," with its highly mechanical blood cir- 
culation shown by Harvey (to name only one such typical dis- 
covery), influenced Descartes profoundly. The Church, meanwhile, 
condemned him for the idea that he could construct beast-machines, 
for how might God-made and man-made creatures exist on the 
same level? 

The whole of Lewis' approach to the comic type can be found 
in this controversy. And for her purposes Miss Rosenfield does not 
investigate Descartes' theories of the physiology of the eye, which 
are so interesting to a student of Lewis; in the so-called "pineal" 
gland, receiving immediate stimuli from the eyes, Descartes believed 
(as Norman Kemp Smith has demonstrated) that here resided "le 
principal siege de Fame." Thus the less "mental," or in the Lewisian 
sense "visual," a man is, the more stupid he becomes. And the more 
stupid a man is, the more primitive he is; and the more primitive, 
and lower on the chain of being, the more mechanical. This is one 
reason accounting for Lewis' constant use of machine imagery, as 
we shall see below, but it is also the basis of his characterization. 
Of course, he takes Descartes to absurd extremes. In this he is prob- 
ably closer to the eighteenth-century French materialist, and friend 
of Frederick II of Prussia, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, author of 
L'Homme-Machine (1748), which eliminated nearly all nonme- 
chanical elements in the corporeal universe and accused man of be- 
ing as much a machine as was the Cartesian animal. Evidently La 
Mettrie conceded a soul, but as this was one totally conditioned by 
the body it was scarcely a spiritual possibility. La Mettrie, in short, 
seems to have taken Descartes' idea of the beast-machine to the 
ridiculous (though still, apparently, debated) conclusion of man- 
machine, so that perhaps Lewis' lineal affinities in this respect lie 
with this philosopher, rather than with Descartes, for La Mettrie 
supposed just that sort of mechanical puppets who parade in clock- 

A Failure of Energy 229 

work packs through Lewis' fiction. In connection with the hero of 
Self Condemned, incidentally, Kenner notes that Rene means re- 
born; it is more to the point to observe that this is Descartes' name 
and that Lewis' Rene "was inclined to furrow up his forehead a la 

No reader can pick up any one of Lewis' satires without noticing 
the man-machine in them. "The froth-forms of these darkly-con- 
trived machines twist and puff in the air, in our legitimate and 
liveried masquerade" in The Wild Body. Arghol yawns in "me- 
chanical spasms." What does Ker-Orr learn about the would-be 
American Frenchman but "the important secret of this man's en- 
tire machine?" Kreisler is often referred to as a machine. Bertha is 
"machine-like" — the breath exudes from her nostrils like "the slight 
steam from a contented machine." Anastasya is an "even more 
substantial machine." In Lewis' "Tyronic Dialogues," a character 
called X. defines himself as an "animal," calls his friends, Q. and 
T., "automata," and has the following exchange with his inter- 

F. "I feel that my words, as I utter them, are issuing from a 
machine. I appear to myself a machine, whose destiny is to 
ask questions." 

X. "The only dijfference is that I am a machine that is con- 
structed to provide you with answers. I am alive, however. 
But I am beholden for life to machines that are asleep." ^ 

Jack Cruze, in The Revenge for Love, having a single obsession in 
life, is a "love-machine." Kemp exclaims, 'We must escape from the 
machine in ourselves!" "Father" Frangois (of The Wild Body), 
Humph (of Snooty Baronet), as well as many other characters, are 
described as "automata," while Mr. Patricks, the shopkeeper of 
Rotting Hill (who significantly resembles Jean-Paul Sartre in looks) 
"is himself like a wound-up toy." It would be possible to instance 
the man-machine in Lewis' satire ahnost indefinitely. No single 

3. Tyro No. 2, pp. 48-9. 

230 Satire 

work deploys this characteristic as rewardingly, however, as The 
Apes, of which it might be said, in Lewis' own words in The Caliph's 
Design, "Every living form is a miraculous mechanism." ^ 

Lord Osmund Willoughby Finnian Shaw, whose facsimile in real 
life has been remarked only too often, perfectly personifies La 
Mettrie, giving "the effect of the jouissant animal — the licking, eat- 
ing, sniffing, fat-muzzled machine." Lady Fredigonde Follett, in the 
magnificent section at the beginning called "The Body Leaves the 
Chair," is a similar animal-machine. The whole of The Apes is con- 
scious puppetry; "This was an all-puppet cast," we are told. Almost 
every character, except the Blackshirt, is described at some point 
as a "robot," "puppet," "machine," or "dummy"; this especially in- 
cludes the Finnian Shaw family, Dan Boleyn, Betty Bligh, Ratner, 
Archie Margolin, and Melanie Blackwell.^ The fatuous play, en- 
acted at Lord Osmund's, is thus a sort of charade of shams, a carica- 
ture of caricatures. The same idea of intellectual puppet, or 
"pantin," provides the theme for The Revenge for Love, while even 
Tarr is once described as such.^ 

Lewis' comic type is the human being lacking in awareness, 
guilty of Bergsonian "distraction," and approximating to the ani- 
mal-machine. He is a romantic, of course, in his lack of proportion, 
his servitude to idiosyncracy. Roy Campbell claims that Lewis "ac- 
centuates mercilessly the ruling 'humour' of each of his charac- 
ters." '^ The ape fulfills this role admirably. First, there is the Teu- 
tonic idea of the devil as the ape of God, the Simon Magus legend, 
what Luther called "Affenspiel." Then, the ape is the animal- 
machine most nearly related to man — and, as Lewis wrote in an 
entertaining essay on the London Zoo, "The animal world, of 
course, does not begin at the turnstiles of the Zoo. It begins right 
here, wherever this book is held in an ape-like and prehensile 

4. Caliph's Design, p. 40. 

5. Apes, pp. 65, 87, 108, 146, 349, 603, 625, gives some examples. 

6. Tarr (Chatto), p. 62 (it is as Tarr rises from being close to Bertha that he 
experiences this otherwise unusual sensation). 

7. Satire and Fiction, p. 15. 

A Failure of Energy 231 

hand." ^ Further, he is a ghost of animaHty haunting man's efforts: 
"Whenever we get a good thing, its shadow comes with it, its ape 
and famihar." ^ Again, the ape is an imitator and of course all the 
characters in The Apes are impersonators of the Godlike artists. In 
this sense it is interesting to observe Frangois Mauriac using a simi- 
lar indictment in his Le Romancier et ses personnages of 1933: 
"L'humilite n'est pas la vertu dominante des romanciers. lis ne 
craignent pas de pretendre au titre de createurs. Des createurs! les 
emules de Dieu! A la verite ils en sont les singes." Martin Jarrett- 
Kerr, in his brief study of Mauriac, translates the last part of this as 
"emulators of God — they are apes of God." And finally, Lewis uses 
the word "ape" in the sense in which we find it in Hazlitt's essay, 
"On Shakespeare and Ben Jonson." Hazlitt (who, as a clue, is men- 
tioned at Lord Osmund's) writes as follows: "Man can hardly be 
said to be a truly contemptible animal, till, from the facilities of 
general intercourse, and the progress of example and opinion, he 
becomes the ape of the extravagances of other men. The keenest 
edge of satire is required to distinguish between the true and false 
pretensions to taste and elegance; its lash is laid on with the utmost 
severity." ^^ 

This is the key to the comic types in The Apes. Each has some 
idiotic pretension, or "humour," as often as not sexual as well as 
artistic, and these "humours" are symptoms of a sick society — boils 
that Lewis lances. Two characters, however, stand somewhat apart 
in a certain passivity, Dan Boleyn and Horace Zagreus. 

Lewis has called Dan "an authentic naif," and in The Caliph's 
Design he describes the nai'f as "a doll-like dummy that the trader 
on sentiment pushes in front of him in stalking the public." Here 
he goes on to explain that there are two chief types of the nai'f in 

8. Wyndham Lewis, "The Zoo," London Guyed, ed. William Kimber (London, 
Hutchinson, 1938), p. 168. Was it by typographical error, or Freudian lapse, that 
Lewis called the famous "animal man" Mr. Cess Smith throughout this article? 

9. Art of Being Ruled, p. 225. 

10. William Hazlitt, Lectures on the English Comic Writers (London, John 
Templeman, 1841), p. 67. 

232 Satire 

the contemporary artistic world, the lover of the primitive and the 
lover of the child. In fact, much of the criticism of this pamphlet 
is behind the creation of Dan (whose original makes for some 
tempting guesswork); and there is behind him also Lewis' dislike 
of the swarming of young geniuses today, as expressed in The 
Doom of Youth. Zagreus is the showman. Some critics have seen 
him as a sympathetic autobiographical characterization, but I do 
not agree with this view. Zagreus is frequently ridiculed. In The 
Criterion, when he first appeared, Lewis called him "a central 
myth." ^^ He is the emissary of Pierpoint who, if anyone is, may be 
the "Vorticist King"; and he is also described as Pierpoint's Plato. 
Hugh Kenner points out that Pierpoint was the name of the public 
hangman in England at this time, so that Lewis presumably thought 
of him as the executioner (and a Fascist one) behind the moribund 
society of the work. However, the executioner who has recently re- 
ceived such publicity in England was Pierrepoint [sic\\ Lewis spells 
his character either Pierpoint or Pierpont.^^ 

One could easily continue to involve oneself in these amusing 
obscurities, but it is more to my purpose here to conclude with two 
examples of the Lewisian comic type in action, Percy Hardcaster 
and Otto Kreisler. I take these, not only because they are often 
considered two of Lewis' best characters, but also because they 
have certain traits which lead us into the comic theme. The pure 
puppet in Lewis' satire, that is, usually yields to one interpretation 
only. Compare, for instance, Hardcaster with Agnes Irons in The 
Revenge for Love. Agnes, golf champion of Malaya, is straight out 
of The Apes in type (she belongs there in Part viii perhaps). In 
The Apes this kind of rigid caricature suits the theme but, put be- 
side Hardcaster, Agnes is fairly uninteresting. 

For Hardcaster grows. Indeed, he is one of the few characters 
in Lewis' satire to do so. At the beginning of The Revenge for Love 

11. Wyndham Lewis, "Mr. Zagreus and the Split-Man," The Criterion, 2, No. 6 
(Feb. 1924), 124. 

12. See Apes, pp. 267-70, for variant spellings; Kenner, Lewis, p. 100. 

A Failure of Energy 233 

it appears that he is not wholly convinced of communism. He dis- 
agrees with Don Alvaro's anti-Marxist sentiments, but he does so 
"against his better judgment." It is this better judgment (his intel- 
lect) that puts Percy on bad terms with himself, as we learn he is. 
At the start of the work Percy seems to me entirely unsympathetic, 
"a brasshat in the class- war" with a "mock-proletario vocabulary." 
But on returning to London he undergoes a purgatory in the sham 
of Chelsea communism. For a while he plays with these political 
buffoons, "to whom a communist workman was distinctly an alarm- 
ing notion," but he reaches a turning point when he confronts the 
shallow, treacherous, vindicative, and entirely phony Communist, 
Gillian. Typically, a woman was chosen for this role. 

Margot, Hardcaster's alter ego, says of these salon Communists, 
"Spring up and face them, and they would give way before you." 
Hardcaster does just this. He tells Gillian the truth, via Machiavelli, 
and upon this unspeakable breach of political etiquette Gillian 
turns and sets her "natural man," Jack Cruze, on him. Percy is 
kicked when down, in a caricature of the English sporting spirit. 
Now this kicking seems to me important, and I find Kenner's inter- 
pretation of it, as an action of "irrelevant neutrality" like the kick- 
ing of Arghol at the beginning of The Enemy of the Stars, a mis- 
reading. We are explicitly told that Percy emerges from the illness 
following the injuries of this kicking physically drawn, and also 
changed inside. ^^ What has happened in Hardcaster's development 
is that his intellect has triumphed. We are told that he now pos- 
sesses will, the one thing the others have not got,^^ and indeed his 
eye confronting that of Jack Cruze is clearly intellect facing senses. 
Forged in this flame, Hardcaster is now "the real Communist." ^^ 
He is Hard Castle, castillo duro, as he himself had put it earlier. At 
the end he is twice called "incorruptible," and the tear that rolls 
down his cheek in the last lines of all may be a tear of self-pity, but 

13. Revenge for Love, p. 271. 

14. Ibid., p. 174. 

15. Ibid., p. 210. 

234 Satire 

it is equally (and Marvin Mudrick would seem to agree here) ^^ 
one of compassion for Margot. 

Otto Kreisler, Lewis' finest individual characterization, is far 
more subtle and significant, however. Of Tarr Lewis has recently 
written: "The book should have been called 'Otto Kreisler,' rather 
than 'Tarr,' who is a secondary figure." ^^ Equally for Pound 
Kreisler is the most important creation in the book.^^ Most review- 
ers agree with this. Yet Tarr, we read in the Egoist Prologue, is the 
"hero." In fact, we approach Kreisler through Tarr. 

Tarr is an intelligent English artist in Bohemian Paris, a part of 
Paris possessed by Germans. His name was that of a famous crick- 
eter of the day, thus introducing the recurrent "play the game" 
motif to which I will return below. He is autobiographical: "In the 
physical description of the young Englishman, Tarr, may be seen 
a caricatural self-portrait of sorts." ^^ At the opening of the work 
Tarr has just broken off his engagement with Bertha Lunken 
(Lewis himself was engaged to a German girl in Paris before the 
war). This is an effort on the part of the English and intellectual 
to disengage itself from the German and sensual which character- 
izes the whole. We are explicitly told that Tarr's intellect resented 
his attachment to Bertha's sensuality.^^ Tarr is continually asso- 
ciated with the intellect. This man, " 'strong i' the head: and uncom- 
monly swarthy,' " and whose art is "ascetic rather than sensuous," 
is engaged in a "long drawn-out struggle" between intellect and 
senses, between art and life. And surely we are permitted to asso- 
ciate Bertha with Big Bertha, the artillery piece, for the latter is 
mentioned in Snooty Baronet, ^^ while in Wyndham Lewis the 

16. Marvin Mudrick, "The Double-Artist and the Injured Party," Shenandoah, 
4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/ Autumn 1953), 63. 

17. Rude Assignment, p. 151. 

18. Ezra Pound, Instigations of Ezra Pound (New York, Boni and Liveright, 
1920), p. 217. 

19. Rude Assignment, p, 151. 

20. Tarr (Chatto), p. 203. 

21. Snooty, p. 167. 

A Failure of Energy 235 

Artist Lewis has confessed to the visual stimulus the great German 
siege guns gave him at this time.^^ His war drawings evidence this 
further. In passing, Lewis is unlike Joyce as a rule in his choice of 
names. Few of these, I think, make complicated puns. This belief 
is surely backed by the numerous minor name changes Lewis made 
in the second edition of Tarr — Knackfus becoming Vitelotte, 
Pfeifer becoming Kreutzberg, and so on — for which I cannot ac- 
count, though Lewis has told us that Knackfus stands for Mont- 

Bertha, then, this " 'high-grade aryan bitch, in good condition, 
superbly made,' " stands for the senses. Like Kreisler, her charac- 
ter has a self-immolating side that makes her love a possessive and 
devouring quality. Although so physically yielding, Bertha is preda- 
tory; in her frightful flat, "An intense atmosphere of teutonic suicide 
permeated everything." And, like Kreisler, Tarr "found it diffi- 
cult to think of her as fleeing, and not pursuing." At the start of 
the book this personification of Romance is dragging Tarr down. 
And in this sense the story is one of the resurrection of Frederick 
Tarr himself. For at the end, "committed to the role marked out by 
reason," Tarr recovers balance. He meets Anastasya, even more 
physically opulent than Bertha ("a sort of super-Bertha," as Pound 
says), but remains uncommitted, though tempted. After he has 
kissed her, Tarr adjusts his glasses (inteflect) and leaves her. Be- 
fore doing so, he puts her in her proper, female place by treating 
her as a prostitute. He goes on to marry Bertha from duty (after 
all, we are told that her child resembles him), and she hopes that 
he is at last "denying reality" by doing so. His subsequent marriage 
to another girl shows that he is not. Mrs. Bertha Tarr, meanwhile, 
marries an eye-doctor, the one person, I would say, she ought to 
have seen in the first place! Thus Tarr gives us "the message of a 
figure of health"; he, the artist, has succeeded in conquering life, 
as the Egoist Prologue suggests. 

22. Wyndham Lewis the Artist, p. 69. 

23. Beginnings, p. 103. 

236 Satire 

Kreisler, however, with whom Tarr becomes involved over the 
duel, is rather more interesting because wider in implication. After 
all, not many of us are artists. But in Kreisler critics have seen a 
clever racial critique. Lewis frankly admits this. The Egoist Pro- 
logue says: "Kreisler in this book is a German and nothing else." 
In Rude Assignment Lewis re-emphasizes that Tarr is a novel about 
Germans and Germany, saying that "Otto Kreisler represents the 
melodramatic nihilism of the generations succeeding to the great 
era of philosophic pessimism." It is important to see Tarr as a criti- 
cism of this kind of Germany, and not a criticism thrown up by 
the first World War, as Pritchett mistakenly sees it. Kreisler's roots 
are in just that French antiromanticism examined in the first part 
of this study. Pound claims that Tarr was finished before the war, 
and Pound was responsible for having the work serialized in The 
Egoist. There is other evidence to support the idea that it was rela- 
tively uninfluenced by the war. According to the Egoist Prologue, 
which is dated 1915, the book was begun in 1910, and according 
to the Chatto and Windus Preface later, it was written during the 
first year of the war. This would all tie in with a letter to Sir Wil- 
liam Rothenstein, alleging that it was completely written before 
Lewis enlisted, i.e. 1915.^^ 

We first come across Kreisler, as we do another monumental 
philistine of modern fiction. Buck Mulligan, in the act of shaving. 
From this point on he is often to be found fatalistically sitting in 
cafes; as Lewis puts it in Rude Assignment, "he enjoys drifting 
with time, until they should reach the brink of the cataract." From 
the first, he is "Doomed Evidently." 

This fatalistic nihilism in Kreisler's character is suggestively built 
up. From the start he is irrevocably committed to his "Schicksal" and 
his suicide at the end is both logical and compelling. It is, in fact, 
the subject of the book, an act of revenge upon society or a kind of 
"revenge for love." For the same fatality combined with erotic en- 

24. Sir William Rothenstein, Men and Memories, Recollections of William 
Rothenstein, 1900-1922 (London, Faber and Faber, 1932), pp. 378-9. 

A Failure of Energy 237 

joyment that we meet in Kreisler is hinted at in a brief criticism of 
the German spirit in Blast No. 2, where Lewis writes of the "fan- 
tastic arrogance of a Prussian officer engaged in an amorous adven- 
ture. The Martinet and the Coquette are mingled. He is also a 
Samurai." Surely this is Kreisler. We read that he has a "prussian 
severity of countenance," a "martial tread," and the "frowning 
fixity of the Prussian warrior." So he advances on Bertha with a 
"fatal, martial monotony." As Lewis explains in Rude Assignment, 
"When the events of his life became too unwieldy 'he converted 
them into love.' " Bertha and Kreisler — "confederates beneath the 
same ban of the world's law" — personify together the German ro- 
mantic nihilism that is the racial criticism of the work. Bertha, who 
has " 'a nice healthy bent for self-unmolation,' " according to Tarr, 
is often likened to Kreisler in her fatalism. And Kreisler, constantly 
referred to by the Liepmann ladies as a brute and a beast, is ac- 
tually once called "Shicksal" [sic] : "Destiny had laid its trap in the 
unconscious Kreisler." Thus they are tellingly brought together in a 
brutal erotic clash, symbolic of the social rape Lewis thinks the 
Germans would like to effect in the society of nations. Indeed, 
Kreisler, who is called a pure German, is fascinated by suffering, 
we read, and demands to make society suffer also. This is admirably 
symbolized by the duel. 

But Kreisler's "plan of outrage" is first shown in action at the 
Liepmann party. We notice that both Kreisler, at this party, and 
Zagreus, "Chez Lionel Kein," act abominably on purpose (like 
Knut Hamsun's Glahn), in an attempt to break up and disintegrate 
reality, though it is true that they do this from different starting 
points. Kreisler is, of course, the man of "action," in the Lewisian 
sense. He boasts of having violently beaten up a dun in Italy. He has 
already had a student duel and we are told that he either seeks out 
women to humiliate them, or to suffer by them. He keeps a dog whip 
in his apartment and has "the romantic stiff ideals of the german stu- 
dent of his generation." Lewis' period in Munich was most valuable 
to him here. 

238 Satire 

In Kreisler (Conrad's Schomberg, with his "grotesque psy- 
chology") we have the best example of "pantin" in Lewis' satire. 
For in this character he found a rigidity of ideology to raise Kreisler 
above the stereotypes of The Apes. Lewis' comic type here engages 
with a wide reality. In Forster's terminology Kreisler is "round," 
whereas the apes are "flat," or types (the lesbian, the millionaire- 
bohemian, the young genius, and so on); the apes are from Theo- 
phrastus. Hardcaster is also "round." He develops and shows some, 
if only minor, flexibility. And, like Kreisler, he is close to the 
tragic. But Kreisler perfectly personifies the social automatism of 
which Bergson wrote in Le Rire: "L'esprit qui s'obstine finira par 
plier les choses a son idee, au Heu de regler sa pensee sur les 
choses." "^^ Kreisler does just this in his absurd duel, in which he 
injects reality with a nightmare of "action" and tries to make the 
world conform to his personality; not only is this duel, in its futility 
and needlessness, highly reminiscent of the duel in Fathers and 
Sons between Pavel Kirsanov and Bazarov, but it makes us think 
of other nihilistic duels, both before and after Tarr, involving Naph- 
tha, Stavrogin, Leverkiihn. Blind commitment to Schicksal leads 
Kreisler to this useless duel, which no one really wants to fight, 
except perhaps Kreisler's second, the bogus-revolutionary Bitzenko. 
But Kreisler's rigidity is such that he is unable to swerve from his 
logical destiny (we are told that he really ought to have killed him- 
self at the beginning of the book), and he sees the duel as a fight 
for Lebensraum: "He, Kreisler, is insulted: he is denied equality of 
existence." What a compelling parallel this character makes with 
Hitler in so many ways! Kreisler, who craves discipline, wishes he 
could use swords, rather than pistols, in his duel. Blood is what he 
would like to see shed. He kills Soltyk "in a silly accident," bolts 
like a criminal knowing (we read) that he was beaten. His final 
suicide is reminiscent of Hardcaster's end in The Revenge for Love 
(and slightly duplicated by Penhale's suicide at the end of The 
Vulgar Streak). Both Hardcaster and Kreisler, in their respective 
prison cells, experience similar twinges of self-pity, both realize 

25. Bergson, Le Rire, p. 189. 

A Failure of Energy 239 

that they have been living a dream. Kreisler, however, unlike Hard- 
caster, kills himself and dies without dignity, "the last thing he was 
conscious of his tongue," organ of the senses, while the last organ 
of Percy's that is mentioned is the eye. 

Kreisler is guilty of the romantic heresy, of injecting reality with 
dream, and of mixing art and life. Tarr actually describes him as 
a dithyrambic spectator at the end, when he says, " 'I believe that 
all the fuss he made was an attempt to get out of Art back into 
Life again.' " ^^ 

It was on the basis of the character of Kreisler that so many Eng- 
lish reviewers likened Tarr to Dostoevsky that, writing in The Ego- 
ist for September 1918, T. S. Eliot could claim that it was "already 
a commonplace to compare Lewis to Dostoevski." Calling Lewis, 
as I have observed above, "the most fascinating personality of our 
time," Eliot went on to praise the book highly,^^ if not quite so 
highly as Pound who called it "the most vigorous and volcanic 
English novel of our time." ^^ Actually the contemporary reviews 
of the book were by no means entirely eulogistic. Nearly every re- 
viewer had some reservations, generally over the long talk between 
Anastasya and Tarr at the end. On the whole the good reviews did 
come from the more intelligent papers (Morning Post, The Man- 
chester Guardian, The Scotsman), the poor reviews from the popu- 
lar press (Daily News, Observer, Aberdeen Journal) , and, as was 
to become customary for a work signed by Wyndham Lewis, from 
America. The New Republic for July 13, 1918, for instance, found 
the work guilty of "inhumanity," and "an example of exasperated 
self-consciousness, of town-mad art." (Hugh Gordon Porteus later 
called it a "too-smart-to-last novel." -^) The Nation thought it a 

26. Tarr (Chatto), p. 305; on p. 113 of this edition Kreisler is further described 
as a German "of the true antiquated grain." In the Carlow Collection there is 
Lewis' card dated 1905, when he was staying at the Pension Bellevue, Theresien- 
strasse No. 30, I and II Str., Munich. 

27. T. S. Eliot, "Tarr,"' The Egoist, 5, No. 8 (Sept., 1918), 105-6. 

28. Pound, Instigations, p. 215. 

29. Hugh Gordon Porteus, "Wyndham Lewis," The Twentieth Century, 2, No. 7 
(Sept., 1931), 5. 

240 Satire 

"dull rigmarole," while Henry B. Fuller, in The Dial, actually sug- 
gested that Lewis was sympathetic to the German element in the 
book! 30 

Eliot was referring to a number of references to Dostoevsky in 
the English reviews of Tarr. He endeavored to correct The Times 
Literary Supplement's view of the lack of balanced method in the 
book by means of the ingenious suggestion that Kreisler and Tarr 
alternately imposed their own method on the narrative. (What hap- 
pens, one wonders, when a stupid and insensitive character imposes 
a method on a work of art? Can it still remain a work of art? ) The 
Times, for July 11, 1918, had indeed been critical, though by no 
means hostile. But Tarr was for The Times a document, rather than 
a work of spontaneous art, and a document that in its utter nihilism 
out-Dostoevskyed Dostoevsky. Two other reviewers, however, prior 
to Eliot's notice, had praised Lewis for his affiliations with Dosto- 
evsky in the creation of Kreisler. Robert Nichols, in The New Wit- 
ness, found the three masters of the author of Tarr to be Dostoevsky, 
Balzac, and Flaubert. He went on: "it will become a date in litera- 
ture, not on account so much of the book's intrinsic value (though 
that is considerable) as because here we have the forerunner of 
the prose and probably of the manner that is to come, a prose that 
is bare and precise . . . Here the new writer takes definite and 
lasting leave of the romantic movement, not as in Mr. Joyce's Tor- 
trait of the Artist as a Young Man' (also published by the Egoist 
Press) with a regretful wave of the hand, but with a most decided 
shake of the fist." ^^ Nor has Nichols been alone in this large claim 
for Tarr, A. J. A. Symons writing in 1937 that the work was "the 
first signpost to the novel of the future." ^^ One supposes that the 
critics who saw Tarr as a break from the traditional English novel 

30. Henry B. Fuller, "A Literary Swashbuckler," The Dial, 45, No. 774 (Oct. 5, 
1918), 261-2. 

31. Robert Nichols, "An Expose of the Hun," The New Witness, 12, No. 305. 
(Sept. 6, 1918), 371. 

32. A. J. A. Symons, "The NoveHst," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 
1937), unpaged. 

A Failure of Energy 241 

were thinking of the author's scant respect for the usual narrative 
sequences and the deposing of the "hero" from a central position. 
Certainly the text is stripped of the normal aspects of narrative, 
in a way that reminds one slightly of Howard's End of 1910. The 
author, that is, will dismiss the narrative element of Tarr as an 
annoying necessity ancillary to the more pressing psychological 
interests of the novel; thus, of Tarr and Anastasya: "At that mo- 
ment the drums began beating to warn everybody of the closing of 
the gates. They had dinner in a Bouillon near the Seine. They 
parted about ten o'clock." In a similar way there is more narrative 
in the last page of the book than in the whole novel put together. 
As Lewis has well observed, Tarr was composed at the height of his 
abstract sympathies. 

One other reviewer besides Nichols seized on the Dostoevskyan 
depiction of Kreisler as German, and one should perhaps remember 
that Constance Garnett's translation of The Brothers Karamazov 
appeared in 1912. The anonymous reviewer in The Nation (Lon- 
don), v/ho Lewis tells us was none other than Rebecca West, 
and whom he thus not for nothing calls "by far the best book- 
critic at that time," ^^ was equally impressed by the psycholog- 
ical perspicuity shown in the handling of Kreisler. Tarr was here 
"a beautiful and serious work of art that reminds us of Dostoevsky 
only because it too is inquisitive about the soul, and because it 
contains one figure of vast moral significance which is worthy to 
stand by Stavrogin." ^^ 

The comparison with Nikolai Stavrogin of The Possessed is not 
one that should be pressed, however. Stavrogin is an aristocrat, 
and his nihihsm has other implications. He has a wealthy mother, 
Varvara Petrovna, while Kreisler is kept continually short of funds 
by his father, and to some extent his actions are impelled by lack 
of cash. There is the same duel business and boorishness in re- 
spectable society. But Stavrogin is married when the story opens, 

33. Rude Assignment, p. 148; Blasting and Bombardiering, pp. 92-3. 

34. "Tarr," The Nation (London), 23, No. 19 (Aug. 10, 1918), 506-8. 

242 Satire 

and although presumably Verkhovensky, who organizes the Nihilists 
in Dostoevsky's work, is Lewis' Bitzenko, and the arson accom- 
plished with Stavrogin's seemingly tacit consent is a Kreisler-like 
action, there are many aspects of The Possessed, such as the critique 
of godlessness, which have nothing to do with Lewis' satire. 

Even so, it is odd that critics have not pursued this comparison, 
made by Pound and Eliot as well as by Rebecca West; but Kenner, 
Tomlin, Grigson, and Porteus all (perhaps wisely) avoid men- 
tioning Lewis' indebtedness to Dostoevsky. It remained for Lien- 
hard Bergel to deliver a most interesting paper at the annual meeting 
of the Modern Language Association of America in 1955 entitled 
"Wyndham Lewis, Dostoevsky, and Gide: The Demon of Progress 
in the Arts" (unpublished as this goes to press). 

Professor Bergel does not find any real ideological similarity 
between Kreisler and Stavrogin. On the other hand, he sees Tan 
in the perspective of the German artist-novel, and observes the 
borrowing of Kreisler's name from E. T. A. Hoffmann. "Tarr 
reads almost like a parody on German romantic artist novels, a 
parody that is executed in the style of Dostoevsky," writes Bergel, 
adding: "But it is the manner of The Notes from the Underground, 
rather than that of The Possessed, which is continued in Lewis's 
novel." It is The Revenge for Love, Bergel feels, that is really Lewis' 
The Possessed. Dostoevsky's criticism of Western "progressivism" 
(in Verkhovensky) is transposed by Lewis to his Chelsea dilet- 
tantes, and there are in this connection some very close similarities 
between the two books, as there are also between The Revenge for 
Love and Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs. "Gide's novel," Bergel 
suggests, "may well have served as an inspiration to Wyndham 
Lewis." The possession by Hardcaster of a genuine Juan Gris is 
made in the same context, Bergel shows, by Werfel, Gide, and Mann 
(Leverkiihn): "The sections in Werfel's novel Barbara that deal 
with the Viennese Boheme of 1918 read like a preview of The 
Revenge for Love." In sum, Bergel supposes that all these writers 
— being themselves of the avant-garde — particularly suspect "the 

A Failure of Energy 243 

irresponsible toying with ^advanced' ideas for the thrill they provide," 
and "the symbiosis of sham culture and nihilism." 

Carlo Linati, who has a laudatory section on Lewis in his Scrit- 
tori anglo americani d'oggi, and is rewarded by being called "Linati, 
that fine critic of Milan" in One-Way Song, has also some suggestive 
things to say about Tarr. For he has read Lewis with care and 
understands that Kreisler's tragi-comic flaw is his inability to come 
to terms with reality. Kreisler is incapable of realism (of "the 
realistic intelligence"); and we are also told that reality brings him 
up short, and that he hears laughter like a blow.^^ So Linati writes: 
"La figura di Kreisler, nella sua stortura, e magnifica. Questo 
satanico impotente par riassumere in se tutte le disfatte degli artisti 
falliti, il febbrile disgusto dell'ideale non raggiunto, le vendette 
dell'uomo contro I'insufficienza della realta e la mediocrita della 
creazione. Kreisler ha Fenergia devastatrice di un Jago . . ." ^^ 

Personally, I cannot see Tarr as a signpost to the novel of the 
future. Lewis' work has not proved seminal in the way Joyce's has. 
But in this martial nihiUst, who "hated powerfully," the comic type 
as envisaged by Lewis achieves real stature. No character he has 
created since matches Kreisler in importance, or suggests that need 
for social reform which the best satire presupposes. The Apes, 
though a larger and perhaps better written work, has a smaller 
subject. And in any case, like all great characters in fiction, Kreisler 
is wider in significance than the racial critique I have been sug- 
gesting here allows. There is something of Kreisler in every adoles- 
cent. But it is as a nationalist symptom that he makes an especially 
disturbing character to read today. With his hatred, bellicosity, 
paranoia, romanticism, and love of the alfdeutsch, Kreisler is 
Goebbels or Hitler. And the sexual side of the Nazi myth is in him 
also. So Lewis writes prophetically in this work: "Instead of rearing 
pyramids against Death, if you can imagine some more uncom- 

35. Tarr (Chatto), pp. 87, 117. 

36. Carlo Linati, Scrittori anglo americani d'oggi (Milano, Corticelli, 1932), p. 

244 Satire 

promising race meeting its obsession by means of an unparalleled 
immobility in life, a race of statues, in short, throwing flesh in 
Death's path instead of basalt, there you would have a people 
among whom Kreisler would have been much at home." ^^ 

37. Tan (Chatto), p. 157, a passage unaltered from the first edition. 

Chapter i6: The Tragic Impulse 

"Tarr's message, as a character in a book, is this. Under the camou- 
flage of a monotonous intrigue he points a permanent opposition, of 
life outstripped, and art become lonely ... He exalts Life into a 
Comedy, when otherwise it is, to his mind, a tawdry zone of half-art, 
or a silly Tragedy. Art is the only thing worth the tragic impulse, for 
him." [Prologue, Tarr, Egoist Ltd. edition, p. xi.] 

"Tragic Humour," Lewis wrote in Blast No. 7, "is the birth- 
right of the North." As he put it in The Enemy of the Stars, there 
is a "unique point of common emotion from which these two ac- 
tivities arise." So Socrates, at the end of the Symposium, compels 
Agathon and Aristophanes, tragic and comic poets, to acknowl- 
edge that the true artist in tragedy is also a comic artist. For Lewis, 
Shakespeare combines the two ideally.^ And he is defining his own 
satire, I feel sure, when he writes: "Satire, some satire, does un- 
doubtedly stand half-way between Tragedy and Comedy. It may 
be a hybrid of these two, or it may be a grinning tragedy, as it 
were." - 

Lewis seems to have felt this from the outset of his career. In 
The Wild Body we read, "Laughter is the representative of tragedy, 
when tragedy is away . . . Laughter is the emotion of tragic de- 
light . . . Laughter is the female of tragedy." "There is laughter 
and laughter," he wrote later in Satire and Fiction, "and that of true 
satire is as it were a tragic laughter." Points 9 and 10 of the Blast 
manifestoes confirm this. 

The satires themselves are full of such references. We are told 

1. Lion and the Fox, p. 21. 

2. "Studies in the Art of Laughter," p. 515. 

246 Satire 

that Bestre and Brotcotnaz are tragic organisms, that the Cornac 
and his wife tread a hairhne of laughter and terror, and that the 
Frenchman of the first story "was convinced the greater part of 
the time that he was taking part in a tragedy." ^ In Tan Bertha's 
face hghts with a "happy tragic resolve," the farcical duel takes 
on a "tragic trend," while Tarr actually calls comedy the "embryo" 
of tragedy on one occasion. It is in the other satires, too. "We are 
tragic beings," Lewis writes in Rude Assignment, and he surely 
means by this that the spectacle of man acting as a machine or 
"pantin" is a sad affair. 

On this relationship to the tragic his comic theme is based. In 
his book on Shakespeare Lewis accepted the definition of tragedy 
as a fall from high estate (only one of various forms, of course, 
yet apparently the most important to his purposes). Tragedy is 
directed against the fortunate, he claims, and after The Wild Body 
very little of his satire is directed against low life. The majority 
of his butts have a lot to lose; they are usually characters puffed 
up, by wealth or pretensions to talent, to a condition of spuriously 
high estate, from which they are then knocked down like ninepins 
by his pen. In the Shakespeare book, it is interesting to find him 
objecting that what usually deprives tragedy of the status of "the 
purest art" is its destruction of the colossus by means of the little 
man (the Jack the Giant-Killer theme). Certainly this is not a 
feature of Lewis' satiric approach. 

But I do not mean that Lewis wants us to read the satires as 
tragedies. Far from it. The Apes is not tragic in the sense that a 
Shakespearian tragedy is. If Lewis had wished to achieve this effect, 
he would naturally have written tragedies of the dramatic sort. The 
fall from high estate of Dick Whittingdon, for example, a sort of 
burst bubble of inflated reputation, does not move us to tears, nor 
is it intended to; it is meant to arouse a savage dislike in us and 
move us to a pitiless correction of the society responsible for this 
automaton, who actually believes he can paint. (Richard Wyndham 

3. Wild Body, ]pp. 8, 137,239. 

The Tragic Impulse 247 

was, of course, a worthless society dilettante.) As we read in The 
Ideal Giant, "The terrible processions beneath are not of our making, 
and are without our pity." The tragedy lies behind the satiric presen- 
tation, in social implications. This is what Lewis meant when he 
wrote, "art cannot be 'tragic' in the intense fashion of life, without 
ceasing to be art." He would argue that Shakespeare could not 
write an Othello or Lear today. The heroic individual, the "person," 
who made the Shakespearian tragedy possible, has all but vanished. 
Consequently our tragedy, tragedy for us "things," can never achieve 
the stature of art, with the result that satire becomes the truest 
tragedy of our times. The Apes illustrates this. 

The Apes is a merciless exposure of men and women as social 
symptoms. Lewis himself sees it from this point of view; it was about 
"the social decay of the insanitary trough between the two great 
wars," * and most of Lewis' criticism is to be found in it. He calls 
the book an inferno of social decadence, adding: "A society has 
premonitions of its end . . . Mortification already set in at the 
edges. They began to stink. I have recorded that stink." ^ Homo- 
sexuality, the youth cult (Dan has the "prestige of the 'under- 
twenties'"), the revolutionary orthodoxy, all are flayed in this 
unforgettable picture of a moribund society. But the balance is 
arranged against artistic (literary and graphic) amateurism. Al- 
though The Apes is a fictional digest of the critical works, it is, 
unlike them, primarily leveled against the class in which Lewis 
lived and by which he was most hurt, namely the literati — the 
"lettered herd." Then, it could be argued that artistic amateurism 
is for Lewis only one more example of the collapse of the authori- 
tarian tradition which is the principal weakness of our societies 
today. The longing for irresponsibility in the child, artist, and im- 
becile (all three conveniently coalescing for Lewis in a figure like 
Gertrude Stein) is itself a social phenomenon against which Lewis 
inveighed in The Art of Being Ruled. All the same, The Apes is 

4. Rude Assignment, p. 199. 

5. Ibid., p. 171. 


248 Satire 

aligned against artists; it is as such that it is remembered. This, 
as I shall show, robs it of real importance for some critics, and I 
think one can safely say that it is in this way more satiric than tragic, 
whereas Tarr, which has wide social impHcations, fulfills far better 
Lewis' expressed desire that satire should act as a tragic cathartic. 
The Apes is aimed, in short, at a far more special target than Swift 
condescended to address. Lewis himself may be hinting at this weak- 
ness when he calls the book his only "pure" satire, but the work does 
show us the tragic fall from high estate. To cling to my original 
example, Dick Whittingdon is brought on to the stage as an admired, 
successful, wealthy amateur artist, and with his servants, motor 
cars, and leisure we might excusably envy him; but by the time we 
have finished reading about him we are — or should be — united in 
despising him as an empty, vain, and stupid painter, and a sexual 
pervert to boot. So Dick falls from grace and Lewis achieves a 
genuine satiric effect. He is a "sham-man." 

The Apes is a satire of millionaire Bohemia, of what Horace 
Zagreus calls " 'the High Bohemia of the Ritzes and Rivieras.' " 
We are prepared for the attack by the previous criticism, in The 
Art of Being Ruled and The Diabolical Principle, of artistic ama- 
teurism today, rife now since monied men deprived of public life 
by the democratic conceit turn to art.^ Yet he also told us, m The 
Enemy No. 2, that "The milHonaire revolutionary proletarian of 
1927 is, in short, disguised as a 'bohemian.' " Time and Western 
Man attacked "the moneyed throng of the 'revolutionary' High- 
Bohemia." Also, the same criticism is hinted at in Tarr and confined, 
with its "Noblesse of Gomorrah," to a gloomy purgatory in The 
Childermass. For instance, Tarr's friend Lowndes has "just enough 
money to be a cubist, that was to say quite a lot." (And Lowndes 
once looks at his watch with "apelike impulsiveness.") Tarr's dis- 
like of Hobson equally prepares us for The Apes. Hobson, rotted 
with liberalism and Bohemianism, is told that he lacks all individ- 
uality and that any normal State would sterilize him. The easiest 

6. Art of Being Ruled, pp. 151-9, 177; Diabolical Principle, p. 132. 

The Tragic Impulse 249 

breakthrough into The Apes itself, and a condensation of all this 
criticism, can be found in the encyclical delivered to Zagreus from 

The satire of this moribund society — now dead? — begins ap- 
propriately with the prelude of Lady Fredigonde preening herself, 
getting ready, in fact, to die. "The especial effluvium of death , like 
a stale peach crept in her nostrils." ® Then the society is exposed, 
man by man, or man-woman by woman-man. Obviously the work 
is a roman a clef with real life originals, the existence of many of 
whom today naturally prohibits overt speculation. But some of the 
subjects have acknowledged the gratuitous portraiture; thus Camp- 
bell says he sat for "Zulu" Blades, though "Zulu" is described as 
a "disgusting beast." It is this fatuous society, with its Salonfdhigkeit 
(Lord Phoebus with his tower to show he was a poet, Lady Harriet 
"living period-piece in crazy motion" and author of Sobs in Quad), 
that the Blackshirt, Bertram Starr-Smith, symbolically kicks on the 
behind in the person of Colonel Ponto. He later kicks Dan himself, 
and "The Vanish," or conjuring trick by which Zagreus makes Dan 
disappear, is another symbol of what should happen to this society. 
We recall, too, that starr is the leitmotiv of Worringer's desiderata 
for art. 

The destructive side of the book presents no difficulty and may 
give more or less satisfaction. It is on the work's constructive side 
that I find divergence among critics. Who, for instance, is Starr- 
Smith? Who is Pierpoint? How much may we take it that Lewis 
sympathizes with these two? Pierpoint, the man behind the scenes 
organizing the disintegration of this society, must remain obscure, 
though a confessed Fascist. But there are points of likeness between 
Lewis and Pierpoint, who is a " 'painter turned philosopher,' " we 
are told, his name but a pseudonym. His political secretary, or 
business manager, Starr-Smith, knows the dying society well: at 
Lord Osmund's he tells Dan he has a " 'map of the house.' " From 

7. Apes, pp. 118-25. 

8. Ibid., p. 16; cf. "this culture was dead as mutton" (p. 43). 

250 Satire 

his lips we hear many of Lewis' own criticisms; Old England is 
dead, the Ritz-Riviera culture of the Finnian-Shaws is stifling true 
art, Osmund and Harriet are perpetuating the child cult, and so 
forth. As opposed to the invert Osmund, Blackshirt is " 'masculine 
to a fault!' " However, Blackshirt is mildly satirized himself, as I 
have pointed out. He denounces Zagreus who, however, proves an 
obedient party disciple in the letter he hands to Dan; this is filled 
with lies and accuses Dan of the democratic conceit, of wanting to 
be "no-bigger-than-any body -else." Finally, the society dies in the 
figure of Fredigonde, collapsing as Zagreus kisses her. 

The Apes has been the most spectacular of all Lewis' productions. 
It is probably his greatest book. From its original appearance in the 
vast, beautifully produced Arthur Press edition, an edition that 
splendidly matches the character of the work, to the commercial 
publications in England and America, of 1931 and 1932 respec- 
tively, it drew with it a wake of lengthy reviews, libel writs, anony- 
mous letters, and even a threat on the author's life by an airman! 
In Satire and Fiction Lewis has reprinted some of these reviews, 
such as those from Naomi Mitchison, L. P. Hartley, Montagu 
Slater, Cecil Roberts, and others, as well as a number of con- 
gratulatory letters from Augustus John, H. G. Wells, Montgomery 
Belgion, Richard Aldington, and so on. In The Referee Aldington 
called the book "one of the most tremendous farces ever conceived 
in the mind of man," adding that "The novel contains some of the 
most brilliant satirical writing ever committed to paper." J. D. 
Beresford and Augustus John saw genius in the book, while Yeats 
wrote that it brought back "something absent from all literature for 
a generation . . . passion ennobled by intensity, by endurance, by 
wisdom. We had it in one man once. He lies in St. Patrick's now 
under the greatest epitaph in history." ^ More recently, Pound has 
described the work as "a smashing big canvas of the boil on ole 

9. Yeats, Letters, p. 776. This praise, often quoted, occurred, however, in the 
context of a reproof; in the letter from which it is drawn Yeats is first and foremost 
defending Edith Sitwell. 

The Tragic Impulse 251 

England's neck," claiming for it a place beside Smollett or Fielding 
but owning that "the peeve" limits it.^^ Elsewhere, Pound has been 
but one of many to compare Lewis with Swift. ^^ 

The Apes, of course, did not enjoy unanimous approval in 
England. Raymond Mortimer and Frank Swinnerton were two 
dissentient voices, while the contemporary review in The Times 
Literary Supplement has become a minor classic of misunderstand- 
ing, and was recently reprinted. This time, however, Lewis got far 
more praise from across the Atlantic than usual. The New York 
Times for April 17, 1932, was on the whole in favor, while The New 
Republic reviewer wrote on June 8: ''The Apes of God is the most 
ambitious, and probably the greatest, piece of fiction published in 
English since Ulysses." Geoffrey Stone, in The Bookman for March, 
went even further: "The greatest novels the twentieth century has so 
far produced, it is generally agreed, are James Joyce's Ulysses and 
Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. With the publication 
of Wyndham Lewis's The Apes of God, a third takes its place among 
them, and can claim superiority so far as intellectual content is 

If evaluations of this sort must remain opinionative, we can surely 
be grateful to Yeats for pointing out that satire in the grand manner 
has certainly been missing from English literature. In this way The 
Apes is an authentic expression of the English genius, dormant for 
some time. Of all Lewis' works The Apes has for me the greatest 
artistic integrity. Hugh Kenner calls it Lewis' "worst-written" book. 
It is, of course, his best. Every page has been composed with honesty. 
Every page, despite one's immediate feeling to the contrar}% is 
functional. Beside this work Snooty Baronet or The Vulgar Streak 
seems slipshod. Lewis' verbal vitality is here at its peak. In this 
respect (though perhaps in this respect only) it seems to me an 
improvement on Tarr, and certainly nothing he has written since 
approaches it. 

10. Pound, // This Be Treason, pp. 5-7. 

11. Pound, Polite Essays, p. 154. 


252 Satire 

Indeed, it is interesting to see how weak "The Roaring Queen" 
of a few years later, which reads Hke a bad chapter from The Apes, 
seems beside the bigger book. Some reference has been made to 
this unpublished satire. E. W. F. Tomlin, in his British Council 
pamphlet on Lewis, discusses the work authoritatively, as though 
he has read it, but one is understandably suspicious when he mis- 
spells the title. ^- Actually the characterizations, especially that of 
the principal figure, a literary dictator called Samuel Shodbutt, which 
Kenner probably rightly takes to be a skit on Arnold Bennett, are 
similar to those of The Apes, and the farce is equally ludicrous. 
(According to a letter to Hugh Walpole Lewis was still dining 
with Bennett in 1920.) But the later work is marred by silly puns 
and impossible exaggerations, the personages are moved clumsily 
and, at least in the proof copy I read, there is still a confusion of 
names. At its best "The Roaring Queen" reminds one of the early 
Waugh, which Lewis would call damning praise. 

In theme the novel lampoons the London literary coterie, with 
its social tie ups and nepotisms: reviewers "puff" works from pub- 
lishers for whom they read, others "plant" anonymous reviews of 
their own books in London periodicals, and so forth. There is little 
in this side of the book that was not better said by Q. D. Leavis 
in her Fiction and the Reading Public. 

The action takes place at an absurd literary house party given 
in an imitation Strawberry Hill in Oxfordshire by a Mrs. Wellesley- 
Crook (who, we learn, is one of the Crooks of Chicago). Samuel 
Shodbutt is to confer the much coveted Book-of-the-Week Prize 
that he controls on a homosexual youth, a shrinking hulking speci- 
men highly reminiscent of Dan Boleyn of The Apes. This young man, 
Daniel Butterboy (actually Butterby), is reluctantly engaged to 
the Hon. Baby Bucktrout, daughter of Lord and Lady Saltpeter, 
a sexually precocious miss who dislikes the idea of the false union 
and makes constant, but unsuccessful, assaults on the virtue of a 
local yokel on the estate, a lout-like gardener called Tom who is 

12. The title is explained at pp. 73-4 of the Harvard proof copy. 


The Tragic Impulse 253 

frequently to be found in the tool shed. This is palpably a parody 
of Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book which, in fact, Baby carries 
with her like a Bible. 

The fantastic house party also includes a Scottish Proustian, a 
painter called Dritter who reminds one of Augustus John, a Black 
Mammie, an Austro-Czech lady novehst (also log-rolhng champion 
of Central Europe, in both senses of the word, it seems) whose name 
is — undisguisedly — Lilli O'Stein, a Mrs. Rhoda Hyman who has 
just won a prize for plagiarism, several girl and boy prodigies of 
the literary world, and sundry hangers-on. The plot is complex and 
artificial. The emphasis on plagiarism — Mrs. Hyman is awarded a 
prize for the Year's Cleverest Literary Larceny for thieving from 
Sonclair [sic] Lewis — and on the successful young gives evidence 
of how strongly Lewis, Wyndham, felt on these points. Eventually, 
after much jockeying for position and what the eighteenth century 
called "place" among the literary aspirants, the young hopeful 
Butterboy is shot in bed. I differ mildly with Kenner here in his 
thinking this death "as meaningless as a cinder in the eye," for there 
is a definite point to this murder, it is not an acte gratuit as at the 
end of Snooty Baronet. 

The most damaging criticism of The Apes, and of Lewis' satire 
in general, is directed against his comic theme, rather than against 
his comic type, however. The theme of The Apes is too small for 
such gigantic literary effort; the targets for Lewis' satire are un- 
worthy, Frank Swinnerton suggests. ^^ T. S. Eliot has said the same: 
"Mr. Wyndham Lewis, the most brilUant journaHst of my genera- 
tion (in addition to his other gifts), often squanders his genius for 
invective upon objects which to everyone but himself seem un- 
worthy of his artillery, and arrays howitzers against card houses." ^^ 
V. S. Pritchett uses this criticism and the metaphor in which it is 
couched, when he recently calls Lewis' satires "old block-busting 

13. Frank Arthur Swinnerton, The Georgian Literary Scene (London, Heine- 
mann, 1935), p. 477. 

14. Eliot, Selected Essays, p. 445. 

254 Satire 

guns and tanks skewed on the abandoned field, they stand still, 
fantastic without their thunder." Of The Apes Pritchett adds, "Its 
fatal limitation is triviality of subject." ^^ 

This is a serious charge, of course, and Lewis himself was aware 
of it. It is not merely a matter of overtopical references, such as 
that in the first Tarr to the Flatbush Vitagraph lot ("Vitagraph 
camp" is changed in the later edition to "Hollywood camp"). In 
Satire and Fiction he tries to answer it on the grounds that Dryden 
also chose insignificant targets to satirize. But there lurks in one's 
mind that there is more in the criticism than this. Will The Apes 
be deprived of the highest rank as a satire because of its lack of 
universality? For such universality is not only a question of subject 
matter; it is a matter of the creator's state of mind. The Tale of a 
Tub, even the D rapier s Letters, are satires in which we can share, 
despite their local references, because of the width of Swift's mind. 
Does The Apes already seem dated, as Pritchett suggests? Inciden- 
tally, its date, the period it condemns, is not the late twenties or 
even (as I have heard some say) the early thirties. The first drafts 
of the book appeared in The Criterion at the beginning of 1924. 
The "Bloomsburies" Lewis ridicules are far more of the vintage 
Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, as well, 
of course, as the family against whom the satire is more obviously 
aimed, than the subsequent generation. Perhaps "the peeve" does 
limit The Apes, though both LA. Richards and Geoffrey Stone 
defend Lewis' small targets. Is not ours a "mean" or "little" age, 
as Lewis describes it? Where are the big targets today, he would 
ask? Or, in his own words: "Art will die, perhaps. It can, however, 
before doing so, paint us a picture of what life looks like without 
art. That will be, of course, a satiric picture. Indeed it is one." ^^ 

It is when we turn to two minor satires, Snooty Baronet and The 
Vulgar Streak, that we at once realize we have been judging The 

15. V. S. Pritchett, Books in General (London, Chatto and Windus, 1953), pp. 
248, 252. 

16. Men without Art, p. 225. 

The Tragic Impulse 255 

Apes by the very highest standards. These two works are far less 
consequential, though both illustrate the Lewisian comic theme in 
action. The first owes considerably to The Apes; it is, as it were, 
a skittish and erratic progeny of the larger satire. Literary London 
is again the target, but there are somber notes which announce 
The Revenge for Love. The book is told in the first person by 
"Snooty" himself. Sir Michael Kell-Imrie Bt., an author attached 
to an aging society Bohemian called Val (Mrs. Valerie Ritter), 
and in the clutches — so far as his writing is concerned — of his 
literary agent Humph (Captain Humphrey Cooper Carter). Both 
these last two characters are riddled with humbug. 

Val is really younger sister of Fredigonde. Fredigonde, we recall, 
was "A Veteran Gossip-Star." Val is an "old imitation-society- 
'piece' " living in Chelsea and flattering herself she can write; she 
is "Chelsea Enchantress, model 1930." She has perhaps already 
been mentioned in The Childermass as "an ageing gossip-column 
Lido-tart with lifted face and gorgon-eye." Val is a total amateur, or 
ape of God ("It is seriously to be doubted ... if any longer 
she realized what she was saying, so accustomed had she become to 

Apart from being a dithyrambic spectator, Val represents the 
emotion against the intellect, approving a Persian book Snooty 
picks up which condemns the mind and lauds the flesh. (Snooty, 
however, is by no means the pure intellectual of the Tarr type; his 
sexual appetite must be accounted for, disastrous as it is, and Rous- 
seau's Emile is his livre de chevet. ) Sexual intercourse makes Snooty 
sick, owing to his head wound received in the war. At the end of 
the book he takes revenge on Val, treating her with utter callous- 
ness, leaving her lying ill of smallpox, possibly dying, her looks to 
be marred forever. 

Humph, equally called an "animal," "automaton," "puppet," 
"moron," and "doll," ^^ lives in a continual dime-fiction atmosphere 
of his own invention; this man, "insufferably up-to-snuff," is the 

17. Snooty, pp. 58, 59, 141, 287. 


256 Satire 

best character in the book and may not be met in the other satires. 
Riddled with sham, constantly acting in a play of his own devising, 
he becomes intolerable when the three go to Persia in search of an 
adventure that will provide the basis for a book. Eventually Snooty 
shoots him in the back, in an acte gratuit, when Humph isn't look- 
ing (and indeed when he is just about to leave Snooty). Like many 
of Lewis' characters, Humph has a physical counterpart to match 
his overblown "humor," in his case a huge chin. 

The semi-autobiographical Snooty is an admitted misanthropist, 
by no means free of puppetry himself. With his mechanical leg, and 
plate in his skull, he is nearly a machine himself, as he often points 
out. So, watching a mechanical dummy in a shopwindow advertising 
men's hats by raising and replacing a hat on its head, Snooty wonders 
which is the more real, this puppet or the people round him in the 
Strand. This moment, incidentally, closely recalls Carlyle's famous 
"Hatter in the Strand" (Past and Present, Book iii, chapter 1), 
an advertising device extremely similar to the one Lewis uses here, 
and equally ridiculous and detestable to Carlyle for the same reasons. 
Snooty sees mankind as "puppets," "machines," "insects," "moving 
morons," and dummies. ^^ He is explicitly anti-Man, longing for the 
bull to gore the torero and for the whale to win in Moby Dick — 
Ahab represents the herd. Thus his actions at the end are consistent. 
He shoots the man who has befriended him and leaves his woman, 
suffering from smallpox, in the hands of a Persian bandit. These 
brief comments do not at all convey the disturbing note of the 
book's final scenes, nor the shocking brutality of the shooting of 

But the tragic element concerns the fate of Rob McPhail, per- 
haps the first thoroughly sympathetic character Lewis had created 
in his satire (in Broken Record Roy Campbell accepts the attribution 
of McPhail). McPhail is a poet from the Veldt ("one of the few 
authentic poets now writing in English"), an expert bullfighter 
and fisherman, living in the south of France. Snooty meets him on 

18. Ibid., pp. 64, 152, 186, 272. 

The Tragic Impulse 257 

his way to Persia. Both Snooty and McPhail are "in pursuit of the 
soHd sensations," and both spit at the mention of Bloomsbury. 
McPhail, rather than Snooty, is the man of honor in the book, and 
his death is symboHcal. For he dies in a bullfight into v/hich he 
need not have entered, a fight itself a sort of sham, thus personify- 
ing death at the hands of the society Snooty sees as so sick. McPhail 
is "struck down in a fifth-rate bull-fight, defending the sportive 
honour of the Faujassers to whom he did not belong." It is a heroic, 
useless gesture, tragically betrayed by those he is trying to help. 
The bullfight scenes are powerful, even at their most ridiculous (as 
when the toreros fight each other, the bull looking on), and the 
symbolic manner in which the absurd catches McPhail in its grip 
is excellently achieved. 

The same exasperation with sham, accompanied by a similar 
note of the macabre at the end, pervades The Vulgar Streak. In- 
deed, there are similarities between Martin Penny-Smythe of this 
work and Humph. And Vincent Penhale here has a Clark Gable 
smile, like Victor of The Revenge for Love. The narrative con- 
cerns itself with a type of sham, a Gidean counterfeiting of bank 
notes. The work is overtly a protest against class snobbery in Eng- 
land, against "the relentless pressure of the English class incubus." 

Vincent is a class traitor, a treachery which society revenges 
at the end. He is a working-class man who steps into the upper 
classes and marries an upper-class girl. The moral of the story is 
the regenerating power of love, but as in The Revenge for Love 
the central character learns this too late. And, in fact, a tear slides 
down Vincent's cheek at the end, rather as it does down Hard- 
caster's. Vincent finds out that his wife is really in love with him, 
or that love is stronger than class, and there is no other end for 
him but the most tragic of all in this context, suicide. Vincent is 
a fairly sympathetic character. Although he has deserted his class, 
he has by no means left his family in want. He takes his beautiful 
sister Maddie with him into the new class and supports the rest of 
his family, sending back money, most of which is spent by his 

258 Satire 

mother on drink. All around him Vincent discovers a sham or 
"pseudo" society; ten years after this book was published Lewis 
was to utilize, in Rotting Hill, this veritably obsessive theme to 
satirize Attlee socialism (I counted the word "pseudo," "sham," or 
"ersatz" five times in four pages of Rotting Hill).^^ 

Further, The Vulgar Streak is a critique of "action." The cult 
of action, which Lewis associates with sensation or Romance, is 
to be thought of in different terms from energy. For instance, Lewis 
believes that disinterested intelligence should be filled with energy, 
but it should not be mixed in action. In 1927 he criticized the 
Futurists for their "evangile of action,'' and a quarter of a century 
later, in The Writer and the Absolute, he laid the same charge at 
the door of Malraux, Sartre, and Camus — in varying degrees of 
severity. In passing, one must once again admit that Lewis takes 
this point up rather as it suits his immediate purpose. Thus, in 
Hitler, the FUhrer is praised as a man of "action," of precisely the 
kind one would expect Lewis to dislike. Lewis here actually cham- 
pions Hitler's ErfUhlungspolitik, as he calls it (actually the word 
used by the Nazis was Erfiillungspolitik), a view he directly con- 
tradicts in The Hitler Cult. The dislike of action of this type comes 
through in The Vulgar Streak when Vincent is sent by his mother- 
in-law to consult a psychiatrist (decidedly reminiscent of the de- 
lightful Dr. Frumpfsusan of The Apes), and by a play on words 
we are told that the more "action" takes over the personality — and 
it can do this by a man's being a sham, or "actor," of life — the less 
the individual lives. The theme is driven home by an easel, a "great 
futile easel, like the skeleton of a prehistoric bird," representing 
art, and the intellect, which haunts Vincent's room overlooking the 
Thames. Unused, its shadow mounts guard over his eventual suicide. 

It is Snooty Baronet, rather than The Vulgar Streak, however, 
which leads us thematically to The Revenge for Love, the most tragic 
of all Lewis' satires. The book was originally entitled False Bottoms 
and changed, so he writes to Lord Carlow, for fear of offending 

19. Rotting Hill, pp. 145-8. 

The Tragic Impulse 259 

"Mrs. J. Bull, the Boots Library Subscriber." We are prepared for 
this in Snooty Baronet when Snooty first sees Humph and is re- 
minded of a box with a false bottom. And the "capture" planned 
for Snooty at the end is a sham capture, very similar to the sham 
delivery of arms at the end of The Revenge for Love. 

This work, in which we have Lewis' nearest approach to direct 
tragedy in the form of satire to date, appeared in May 1937. Earlier 
the same year, in his article addressed to the British Fascist party, 
Lewis had called Marxism "an enormous sham." -^ And he was 
soon, in Left Wings, to indict the "sham-bulldog" of Great Britain. 
The theme of false bottom is continually mentioned throughout 
The Revenge for Lover^ First, however, it provides the frame. The 
book opens with the warder's discovery of the false bottom in the 
peasant girl's basket (food covering seditious material), and it 
ends with Victor Stamp's discovery of bricks, instead of guns, in 
the false bottom of his car. Indeed, the image might be prolonged 
to cover Victor's and Margot's death by falling over a precipice, 
a natural false bottom in the treacherous mountains. In this con- 
nection, it is significant that the "slowly-ploughing traditional vessel 
of Old Spain," the peasant girl Josefa de la Asuncion, should be 
the carrier of the first false bottom, for the civil war is seen in this 
work as Old Spain sabotaging herself. It is everywhere a "foreign 
freedom" that is being ushered into the West in the name of Marx, 
and into Spain too, in Count Your Dead as in The Revenge for 
Love, and this is what Stamp introduces into Old Spain at the end 
in the form of his "typewriters." Josefa herself, it might be added, 
has anything but a false bottom. 

Equally, however, the title as we now have it describes the 
theme, one stated by the showman, Don Alvaro, on the first page: 
" Ve are only free once in our lives . . . That is when at last we 
gaze into the bottom of the heart of our beloved and find that 
it is false.' " Sham is here the human norm, and love therefore an 

20. " 'Left Wings' and the C 3 Mind," p. 30. 

21. Revenge for Love, pp. 49, 162, 177, 180, 253, 266, 272, 313. 368-71. 

260 Satire 

act of complicity with falsification. Hence, the warder is saying, we 
are only truly free when detached from such love by the very act 
of betrayal. For love implies attachment, and for Lewis detach- 
ment is all. The thesis of the book is that love attracts disaster in 
a world of sham, or that love will take revenge on false bottoms, 
and it is primarily enacted by Hardcaster and Margot. The rest 
of the characters, with the odd exception like Tristram Phipps, are 
socialist puppets or political marionettes, and we are forcibly re- 
minded that T. E. Hulme wrote of socialism: "it has all the pathos 
of marionettes in a play, dead things gesticulating as though they 
were alive." ^^ The Communists of The Revenge for Love are "wax- 
dolls," "ghost-persons," "sham-politicos," living "the machine-life 
of an hysterical, half-conscious, underworld," in brief, "sham- 
underdogs athirst for power: whose doctrine was a SiciUan Vespers, 
and which yet treated the real poor, when they were encountered, 
with such overweening contempt, and even derision." ^^ 

It is the false bottom of this unreality that underUes everything 
sohd and sensible. Nor can it fairly be objected that this criticism 
is wildly exaggerated. Indeed, the very kind of sham socialism Lewis 
criticized in these parlor pinks is virtually admitted in Isherwood's 
Prater Violet where the hero, called Isherwood, thinks back on his 
generation at this time as "parlor socialists": "I cared . . . But 
did I care as much as I said I did?" ^^ In his recent autobiographical 
The Invisible Writing Arthur Koestler refers to "the lotus-eaters 
of the British C.P." at this time.^s 

In Lewis' novel everyone, excluding the principals, is fake. Even 
Victor is a sham, a "deluded" man who does not give a jot for the 
people and whose painting is described as "vomit." It is no surprise 
when he joins the workshop producing faked modern masters. At 

22. Hulme, Speculations, p. 255. 

23. Revenge for Love, p. 160. 

24. Christopher Isherwood, Prater Violet (New York, Random House, 1945), 
p. 104. 

25. Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing (New York, Macmillan, 1954), 
p. 384. 

The Tragic Impulse 261 

the end, in the company of Margot with whom he has been living, 
he improves. Every other minor character is bogus (not Tristy). 
Sean O'Hara, who betrays his friend, has earHer absconded from 
DubHn with the Communist party funds. Abershaw, the signature 
forger, is a "highly bogus personage," and so on. Every minor 
character, every incident, follows this rule. Serafin, who helps 
Hardcaster escape, is paid by both sides. When Percy watches the 
funeral of an anarchist, we learn that the man has not died gal- 
lantly, in action, but from overeating caviar. At the end a beggar 
woman spits on Hardcaster when he gives her chocolate. 

In such a world authenticity of any kind must pay a heavy penalty. 
There are two types of love in the book, intellectual (that of Hard- 
caster for a creed) and emotional (that of Margot, Gwendolen 
Margaret Savage, for Victor, her lover). In Margot's case, how- 
ever, it must be admitted that there is an element of make-believe 
in her love for Victor. She wears a Kate Greenaway hat and reads 
Virginia WooK avidly, and we are told that "she belonged to a 
'period' — of her own manufacture." At the end the authenticity 
of this love is debated between Hardcaster and a Communist called 
Mateu. Hardcaster denies that Margot's love is genuine, but then 
he is not the man to approve of any emotional exhibition. Mateu, 
however, disagrees, and maintains that Margot's is a true passionate 

Hardcaster's intellectual love brings equal disaster. Hardcaster 
introduces one motif dear to Lewis, namely that of playing the 
game. We expHcitly read that Percy "played the game," and it is 
for this that he must pay. For to Lewis (whose name is also Percy) 
"playing the game" is a sort of English sham, like the sense of humor. 
He has actually called the English sense of humor "that maudlin 
twin-brother of the Sporting Spirit," -^ and at about the same time 
as he was writing The Revenge for Love he also wrote, " 'playing 
the game,' as too hypnotic a slogan, has perhaps rotted the sense of 

26. Wyndham Lewis, "First Aid for the Unorthodox," The London Mercury, 32, 
No. 187 (May 1935), 31. 

262 Satire 

reality of the average Briton." ^^ in One-Way Song he boasted: "The 
man I am who does not play the game!" This emerges in Major 
Corcoran of America, I Presume also; so when Corkers learns that 
his guide around a Canadian youth club is a rugger Blue he ex- 
claims " 'You unspeakable cad!' " Lewis himself was educated — 
briefly — at Rugby, home of rugby football and thus of "playing the 
game," but as he put it in Rude Assignment, "I rapidly came to 
see that there was, in fact, no game there at all." The satire on 
"playing the game" occurs also in The Childermass where the 
fatuous Satters appears dressed for football, though in this case 
the cherished Rugby cap (like the Mons Star he wears) is really 
an emblem of what Satters would like to have been in life. Father 
Card of The Red Priest was a boxing Blue. Hardcaster's fatal 
mistake is to "play the game" in two senses: (a) he is honest, like 
McPhail, in a world of sham, and (b) he "plays the game" of salon 
communism with the Chelsea socialists without realizing that for 
them it is only a game. For this he must suffer. For a lack of recog- 
nition of reality, for failing to realize that Gillian and the others 
are unreal, he suffers the atrocious penalty of being kicked when 
down, itself the negation of the Sporting Spirit and of "playing 
the game." (Card, later, kicks a man when down.) Finally, we 
have a feeling of impending disaster as Hardcaster is approached 
by the sinister Abershaw and the corrupt O'Hara and asked to mix 
himself once more in the game. As Percy agrees and holds out his 
hand, it grows dark in the room, a moment of ominous threat 
paralleled for Margot as she bends over the brook and feels nature 
as hostile and unsympathetic. ^^ 

Victor and Margot are killed. Percy is put back in prison. All 
these, at the end, are people of honor in the work. At the con- 
clusion Victor improves; he comes out to Spain "to give a hand," 
and must accordingly suffer. Margot calls Percy "a sincere man" 
at the finish, and for this he too must pay. When Percy, for instance, 

27. Left Wings, p. 44. 

28. Revenge for Love, pp. 284, 305. 

The Tragic Impulse 263 

hears of the chance of Victor being double-crossed he says, " 'I'm 
not so hard-boiled as to stand by and allow that.' " And he is taken 
prisoner in an act of unselfishness designed to protect Stamp — 
which it does, if only temporarily. 

Margot is revenged for the truth of her love, takes Victor with 
her. But the most tragic revenge for love is upon the intellectual, 
Hardcaster. At the end he lies in prison, where we had first found 
him, "His integrity stiffened after each fresh buffet of fate." In 
the case of this character the "pantin" steps over into tragedy, and 
Lewis cannot ask us to remain unmoved by the end of the book. He 
himself has placed The Revenge for Love higher than Tarr and it 
is certainly a development from Tarr rather than from The Apes. 
{The Times Literary Supplement has seen The Revenge for Love 
as Lewis' finest work. ) The inflexibility, the rigidity that the Marxist 
logic imparts — like the logic of Kreisler's nihihsm — is seized upon 
and mercilessly satirized in the person of Percy. But it gives him a 
"hard cast" only (I allow myself this interpretation, as there is 
constant play on Percy's surname throughout). The act of belief 
has been pitifully human. Spurned by the other prisoners, spat on 
by a beggar crone, "this man of truth" with his "incorruptible in- 
tellect" at last lets a tear fall down his poker face. No physical 
suffering has brought this reaction from him, though he has ex- 
perienced plenty of that — only the thought of Margot to whose kind, 
the weak and the tender, his politics has played Judas: this is the 
context of the last, brilliant passage of the book.^^ 

In conclusion, there are two other satires by Lewis that should 
be briefly mentioned here. That they will only be briefly mentioned, 
however, is due to two convictions: first, in these works the critic 
has least need to act as interlocutor; and second, for one has to take 
one's stand somewhere, they do not constitute his important con- 

29. Ibid., p. 377. I am aware that Hardcaster feels "self-pity" at this point, but 
do not feel that this qualifies my analysis here. It is, however, a complete misreading 
to claim, with Marvin Mudrick, that Hardcaster "cleverly betrayed" Victor and 
Margot at the end; he did the reverse. 

264 Satire 

tributions to literature. In asserting this, I am well aware that 
Self Condemned is considered very highly by some. For L. P. Hartley 
it has "the strongest fictional and human interest" of all Lewis' 
novels. T. S. EHot has found it "a book of almost unbearable 
spiritual agony." E. W. F. Tomlin has called it Lewis' "most impres- 
sive performance in straight novel- writing." At the same time, in 
concession to my own estimate, which is not high, I would add that 
other critics equally sympathetic to Lewis are much more cautious: 
Walter Allen calls it "a novel of great intellectual distinction," but 
Httle more, while Hugh Kenner, who verges on the uncritical in 
some of his opinions on Lewis, writes that "Self Condemned is 
not a well-made novel but a slow and terrible wind, gathering force 
for 400 pages, dying to occasional doldrums in whose hush the 
novelist carries on out of habit." 

For me the real disappointment of Lewis' first novel for thirteen 
years, between 1941 and 1954 that is, is its total lack of creative 
surprise and inventive vigor. After having read everything else by 
the same author to date, I could in all honesty find little of interest 
in Self Condemned (and even less in The Red Priest which fol- 
lowed). Why must we, for example, plough through a long inter- 
polation on Arnold of Rugby in this novel when we can read 
Lewis' views on this figure, more coherently expressed, in The 
Times Literary Supplement a few months later? Too heavy a 
judicum should not be imposed on a work merely because it is 
predictable, however, and there are passages of great power in this 
novel of an intellectual engaged in an agonized struggle of disen- 
gagement and eventually "condemned" for refusing to preach con- 
temporary ideology. For at the start of the book Rene Harding, 
a half-French history don, throws up his academic position in 
England and exiles himself to Canada for the duration of the second 
World War; both he and his wife Hesther know that this ultimate, 
indeed sepulchral, unorthodoxy is a symbolic gesture, a last vale: 
"Both of them knew that this was the last year of an epoch, and 
. . . that as far as that quiet, inteUigent, unmolested elect life 
was concerned, they were both condemned to death." For there 

The Tragic Impulse 265 

is a pun in the title. The two leave Europe only to find an inferno 
of fire and ice in the new world. 

Rene is an "implacable perfectionist" (though "gaily capable of 
unregenerate behavior"), who winks at a bust of Bolingbroke, is 
falsely accused of being a Fascist by The Times, and on the way 
over to Canada tosses overboard a copy of Middlemarch. But this 
characteristically sharp-eyed persona cannot rid himself of Ro- 
mance so easily as that, for Hesther is our old friend, the neoclas- 
sical conception of woman and a mild comeback of Bertha in 
Tarr. Hesther is, for instance, "classified under the head 'Erotics,' " 
Rene later calls her Hesteria, and it is with "what almost amounted 
to a shudder" that Rene is sexually attracted by her. "He always 
forgot that Hesther was a human being, because she was so ter- 
ribly much the Woman." Rene, as usual, one might say by now, 
hates being "compromised with the silliness involved in the repro- 
duction of the species," and the two get off the bed where they have 
been making love "like two flies dragging themselves out of a 
treacly plate." One level of the intellectual's degradation in phiUstine 
Canada, then, is to lose something of his necessary differentiation 
from this wife who shows "the remains of the child-mind" in her 
eyes, eyes which indeed "hung open like a gaping mouth." In this 
manner the hotel room in which most of Self Condemned takes 
place repHes to the room of Barbusse's L'Enfer. 

For three years and three months Rene and his Hesther live 
in the Hotel Blundell in the Canadian city of Momaco, "the never- 
never land ... the living-death, the genuine blank-of -blanks out 
of which no speck of pleasantness or civilized life could come." 
It took the Canadian critic H. M. McLuhan to observe that Lewis 
probably intended by this name Mom & Co. Here, in Room 27A 
("twenty-five feet by twelve"), a "lethal chamber" as they find it in 
every sense, the action of the novel hideously freezes. The two are 
"room-ridden" with a vengeance, "frozen in their tracks, as it were, 
by the magic of total war," as Lewis allows the tragic inertia of his 
crippled intellectual to atrophy symbolically. 

For a retrospective, half-elegiac interval, the figures of Old 

266 Satire 

England cast their shadows across the arid landscape of Momaco. 
We meet characters of the other continent, of the earlier Lewis, 
such as Mr. Herbert Starr, the Momaco fairy, a throwback to The 
Apes (even in name, also), and Cedric Furber, who sits for Lytton 
Strachey and introduces Bloomsbury once again. Around this time, 
too, Lewis had had Strachey visited by "a certain novelist of my 
acquaintance" in a story in Encounter and described as a "per- 
verse amorist." There is also Mrs. Plant, "the dazed and crippled 
mistress of all this," who possibly recalls Evelyn Waugh's own 
persona, John Plant, for there are references elsewhere to Waugh 
in Self Condemned and I have instanced Waugh's dig at Vorticism 
in Vile Bodies, 

Furber hires Rene to help him with his library until an infatua- 
tion with a youth deprives Rene of this employment and drives him 
to write for the Momaco Gazette-Herald (Lewis himself had con- 
tributed to the Toronto Saturday Night at about this time). Like 
Hardcaster, Rene is kicked, and kicked when down, and this cli- 
macteric seems to set off his whole tragic annihilation until, as 
Hugh Kenner aptly observes, "he becomes the thing he rejected." 
He begins selling his books, he "modifies" his earlier "perfectionist" 
theories (expressed to a character called Rotter and paraphrasing 
The Art of Being Ruled), until we read: "Even, he had developed 
an appetite for this negation of life, and a sort of love for this 
frightful Room." Eventually the hotel (a "brisk little microcosm") 
goes up, like Europe, in flames; as the edifice is razed to the ground, 
Rene and Hesther "both stood dreamily at the window: their eyes 
seemed to be saying to the flames, 'Yes, all right. Leave nothing.' " 
Nothing is left. Rene collaborates with his anti-self, Momaco, 
accepting the Chair of History at the local university and Hesther, 
either in despair or with mind deranged, kills herself. At the very 
end Rene reaches rock bottom; he accepts a teaching position in 

To resume Self Condemned in this summary fashion does scant 
justice to some really memorable minor characterizations, especially 

The Tragic Impulse 267 

Rene's superb London charlady, her face "eerily jeering," or his 
London plumber, Mr. Shotstone, "a prostatic elder" straight from 
Rotting Hill There is also Rene's brother-in-law Percy Lamport, 
a sham liberal, a subscriber to The New Statesman, "an emissary 
of Nonsense in person." For David Paul, who reviewed Self Con- 
demned in The Observer alongside Daphne du Maurier's Mary 
Anne, the book recalled "some of the novels of twenty-odd years 
ago." Is there, indeed, "twentyish" dialogue in Self Condemned? 
If so, the answer is: And so there should be! For here in Momaco, 
"the barren spot where you ceased to think," is a characterization 
of cultural lag; the Canadian general outlook is depicted as vulgar 
and sterile, with its smug philistinism, its inbreeding, its "anti- 
British bias," its detestation of "Pea-soups" ("No Nazi," Rene 
once remarks, "could feel more racial superiority than the English 
Canucks of Upper Canada"). 

It is the catty cleric of Self Condemned, if not of Rotting Hill, 
who announces Lewis' recent The Red Priest. The Reverend Robert 
Kerridge, engaged in the "god-business" in Self Condemned, pre- 
pares us for Father Augustine ("Teeny") Card, a skit on the side 
perhaps of both Donald Soper and Norman Vincent Peale. 

The satire begins briskly enough. Poor Mary Chillingham is 
breaking with her suitor Arthur Wootton, "a child-like Grenadier, 
as dumb as his busbies," while Father Card is seen chucking dis- 
senters out of his church. There is the old bravura in the vocabu- 
lary, too, as Lewis depicts the Knights of the Dustbin Lids, exag- 
gerated juvenile delinquents, "elderly infants," or "mildewed 
midgets," waging constant warfare on rival gangs in the mews of 
London. Card and Mary marry and the story gradually bogs as it 
progresses — all too obviously — toward Card's hollow assumption 
of power and final death in the Arctic regions. The work contains 
a covey of nonfunctional and uninteresting characters, and Card 
himself is unconvincing; though educated at Eton, he uses Amer- 
icanisms like "guy" and "dough." The prose itself slowly becomes 
more and more banal. 

268 Satire 

This may be intentional, of course; and it is possible that there 
is self-parody in The Red Priest. Certainly Mary Chillingham, whom 
The Times Literary Supplement found a "magnificent characteriza- 
tion ... a finely conceived figure, drawn with an extraordinary 
certainty of touch," is a parody — probably of Woolf — "a heroine of 
romance," as she is called, who goes through a series of reactions 
as stock and as conventional as Card's are the reverse. "In each 
other's arms as never before," we read of Mary and Augustine, 
and surely such cliches are intended to convey the measure of 
Card's degradation. Card, we remember, is another contra mundum 
"enemy," a "stone-age man" who has committed one grave blunder 
in his life — the murder of Makepeace. And this haunts him, until 
he himself is killed by the Eskimos. Blast No. J had called England 
"The Siberia of the Mind." 

Chapter 17: The External Approach 

"The external approach to things belongs to the 'classical' manner of 
apprehending ... as for pure satire — there the eye is supreme." 
[Satire and Fiction, p. 52.] 

The technique by which Lewis presents his satire is what he 
calls "the philosophy of the eye." Like Joyce's Shaun, he is an eye- 
man. How many times has he told us this? "I am an artist, and, 
through my eye, must confess to a tremendous bias. In my purely 
literary voyages my eye is always my compass," we read in The 
Art of Being Ruled; "I go about and use my eyes," in One-Way Song; 
"The ossature is my favourite part of a living animal organism," in 
Satire and Fiction; and so on. It has become a commonplace by 
now to remark Lewis' external approach, both in his graphic and 
literary work. He is a "visuel," Montgomery Belgion claims. Pound 
has compared him with E. E. Cummings, presumably the Cummings 
of The Enormous Room, in this respect. W. G. Constable, in a not 
altogether friendly review, likened Lewis' drawing to his "hard, me- 
chanical, jerky," and external literary style, attributing both to an 
obsessive anxiety to make his personality felt.^ Of The Apes Lewis 
has claimed, "no book has ever been written that has paid more 
attention to the outside of people." ^ L. P. Hartley likened the 
prose of the book to sculpture in its effects. "The cortex, massive 
and sharply outlined, not the liquefaction within, I have always 
regarded as the proper province of the artist," Lewis wrote in his 
1939 autobiography. 

1. W. G. Constable, "Wyndham Lewis," The New Statesman, 15, No. 367 
(April 24, 1920), 74. 

2. Satire and Fiction, p. 46. 

270 Satire 

For this "specialist in seeing,*' ^ this "fanatic for the externality 
of things," ^ as he likes to style himself, has proposed in contempo- 
rary literature an altogether different technique to the "auriferous 
mud," as he puts it, of writers like Joyce, Henry James, and D. H. 
Lawrence, the writers of the "inside." The expressive form of satire, 
in other words, should match its metaphysical kernel: "Dogmatically, 
then, I am for the Great Without, for the method of external ap- 
proach, for the wisdom of the eye, rather than that of the ear." This 
approach, Lewis claims (and claims with Benda's support), is closer 
to the classical than to the romantic. 

It was in Time and Western Man that Lewis first adumbrated at 
length his "philosophy of the eye." The eye was "the crowning hu- 
man sense." It alone gave reality, unaffected by the "darkness" of 
the aural and tactile world. Untroubled by the lower senses, the optic 
sense placed the world of common-sense reality as directly as pos- 
sible before the intellect. In fact, the eye is the intellect, "private 
organ" of the senses, the "person" in the human organism. 

This idea may be found also in Belphegor. Benda equates dis- 
tinction with the eye, confusion with hearing.^ The "philosophy of 
the eye" is deliberately anti-Bergsonian. For Bergson, true per- 
ception travels from the periphery to the center (the real self) ; the 
constantly changing external world only exists as the inner person- 
ality accords it existence.® Needless to say, Lewis opposes this view. 
Fernandez also opposes it in practice in Proust; though by no 
means an artistic failure for Fernandez, Proust's method suggests 
too much a constant collapse into sensation, it is "une maniere de 
defaite spirituelle." Attacking introspection, Fernandez considers 
that the formation of personality may be accomphshed outside the 
fictional character.^ Lewis goes much further than these critics, of 
course. He summarized his dislike of the ear in Time and Western 

3. Jews, p, 41. 

4. Blasting and Bombardiering, p. 9. 

5. Benda, Belphegor, pp. 189-95. 

6. Bergson, Matiere et memoire, pp. 36 ff. 

7. Fernandez, Messages, pp. 52-7. 

The External Approach 271 

Man as follows: "A world of motion is a world of music, if any- 
thing. No visual artist would ever have imagined (or had he 
imagined, he would have turned in horror from) such a world as 
the bergsonian, relativist world. The fact that Einstein comes from 
the country of music may not be without significance." ^ 

All this is interesting enough, but to be of constructive value, and 
not to be written off as mere dislike for the interior monologue 
which was proving so fertile in the hands of Joyce, Larbaud, Doblin, 
and Woolf at this time, the "philosophy of the eye" must give us 
some positive suggestions concerning literary technique. Lewis pre- 
tends to give these in Satire and Fiction. Before approaching them, 
however, I would suggest that the vital distinction between Lewis' 
"philosophy of the eye" and the interior monologue, or Strom des 
Bewusstseins, is a metaphysical difference. Lewis' work is a re- 
traction from, rather than mingling in, experience. Bergson stands 
for the opposite approach, that of Proust, when he says, in Matiere 
et memoir e, that perception must be mixed with affection. Satire, 
Lewis replies, aims to give truth before pleasure: "If you want to be 
*happy' you must not be a man, but a pig." ^ The more agreeable 
the art-form, he actually suggests in Satire and Fiction, the more 
false it is likely to be. 

Rejecting what he calls "fiction from the inside," especially as 
exemplified by Lawrence, James, and Joyce, Lewis pleads that an 
injection of the satiric gift has stiffened all good art, since the 
grotesque will tend to correct the soft romantic imagining, and he 
goes on to ask for more "fiction from the outside." As for satire 
itself, there is no other way — "it must deal with the outside." A 
number of characters reiterate this opinion. To Ratner (James 
Joyce, after all) Zagreus says, " 'To be a true satirist Ratner you 
must remain upon the surface of existence.' " The Bailiff says, 
" The more highly developed the individual ... the more the 

8. Time and Western Man, p. 410. 

9. Art of Being Ruled, p. 443; Satire and Fiction, p. 49. Lewis adds the caveat 
that all disagreeable art is not therefore satire. 

272 Satire 

exterior world is a part of him.' " Joyce comes in for his ration of 
scorn here. In 1929 Lewis lets himself go. The "unpunctuated" 
portions of Ulysses, he writes, ignoring his own large debt to Joyce 
on this score, are "merely a device ... for presenting the dis- 
ordered spurting of the imbecile low- average mind." In both Satire 
and Fiction and Men without Art Henry James is equally derided. 
James stands for "the art of the 'soul' " instead of ''the art of the 
body." Though in one place a "New England old maid," James 
also is "a behever in mob-values." Once again, this attack is all the 
more eccentric if we turn to its victim. For James's severe review 
of Harriet EHzabeth Prescott's Azarian: An Episode, originally 
pubhshed in The North American Review for January 1865, actu- 
ally hints at the "inside" and "outside" methods to come in modern 
fiction, in a heartfelt appeal for true observation in the novel. In 
fact, James here stresses action and narrative, rather than tedious 

The "philosophy of the eye" belongs properly to satire, Lewis 
says, however, since its aim is to cure man of vices and that can best 
be effected by showing what he really looks like. (It is, of course, 
sarcastically that Mrs. Mallow advises Vincent Penhale to go to a 
psychiatrist who will tell him what he looks like from the outside. ) 
Yet Lewis will, he says, allow the interior monologue to be employed 
in fiction for depicting (1) the very aged, (2) the very young, 
(3) half-wits, and (4) animals. "In my opinion it should be en- 
tirely confined to those classes of characters." ^^ Class 1 would 
include a character like Fredigonde, whose thought-stream is cer- 
tainly given us; Class 2 would include someone like the mentally 
young Dan; Class 3 would include the majority of Lewis' char- 
acters, and Class 4 remains unfilled in his satire, so far as I know. 
It has been left to Jules Romains to provide for us the interior 
monologue of a dog — if we except the special case of the interior 
monologue of a dog presented by a half-wit, in the case of Kipling. 

10. Men without Art, p. 120. Lewis again confines the technique of the interior 
monologue to these four categories in his interview with Louise Morgan. Louise 
Morgan, Writers at Work (London, Chatto and Windus, 1931), pp. 43-52. 

The External Approach 273 

Yet there is a further category that permits the stream-of-con- 
sciousness style, though Lewis does not mention it, for obvious 
reasons. The interior monologue may be used, it is apparent, as a 
parody of the interior monologue. The "Stein-stutter" is the chief 
of these. But there are other parodies, too. There is a deliberate 
skit on Virginia Woolf's style at the beginning of Part vi of The 
Revenge for Love, when the highly feminine Margot is being char- 
acterized. In Snooty Baronet there is an obvious skit on the style 
of the maid's novelette. This occurs in the first chapter dealing with 
the London Lily (not to be confused with Shushani, the second Lily 
Snooty meets in Persia, a prostitute). The first Lily is a London 
shopgirl, salesgirl at a tobacconist's kiosk, a "mechanical dollie" 
whom Snooty uses when he pleases: "whenever I see her she was 
the dream-come-true that tumbled my heart about and shook my 
pulses in an idiot's tattoo." This pleasant take-off of a writer of the 
type of Ethel M. Dell is apparently taken seriously by Roy Camp- 
bell, who calls this section of the book fine lyrical prose in Light 
on a Dark Horsel Snooty Baronet also contains a less lighthearted 
parody of D. H. Lawrence, when Snooty picks up a book called 
Sol Invictus, purporting to be by Lawrence, and quotes from it; it 
is, of course, a mishmash of bulls and the Mithras cult. In The 
Vulgar Streak April Mallow's first kiss is described in cliche-ridden 
English, parodying fiction of the best-seller variety. But by far the 
most serious parodies Lewis presents are directed against Stein 
and Joyce, the monstrous offspring, so far as he came to be con- 
cerned, of the unspeakable transition. Interestingly, we find Babbitt 
criticizing transition as a semi-official organ of the stream-of-con- 
sciousness school in On Being Creative. This style. Babbitt writes, 
can never give us reality, being "below the human and rational 
level." ^^ 

Several characters "stein," to coin Lewis' verb. Dan is guilty of 
constant Stein-like repetitions. ^^ The chief offenders, however, are 

11. Irving Babbitt, On Being Creative (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1932), p. 125. 

12. Apes, p. 114. Zagreus is reported as saying that Dan thinks the way Stein 
writes, "'like a soft stammering ninny spelling out its alphabet'" (Apes, p. 420). 

274 Satire 

the inane Fredigonde, who "Steins away" Uke mad, and the ap- 
palling Satters of The Childermass . The Stein-stutter is not merely 
a matter of Lady Fredigonde's thought-stream in The Apes, how- 
ever. As a type of idiotic repetition (precisely of the kind Bergson 
proposed as the comic) it crops up in dialogue; here is the Finnian- 
Shaw family talking to each other at Lord Osmund's : 

"I do believe I've pulled Lady Truncheon's train right off!" 

"I think you have!" Lord Phoebus cried. 

"How terribly careless of me — I do hope Lady Truncheon 
will excuse me, it was particularly clumsy of me." 

*T shouldn't if 1 were Lady Truncheon!" 

"I could hit myself!" the offender bayed at herself. 

"I'm sure she could!" crashed back Lord Phoebus. 

"If I had only known you were there Lady Truncheon!" 

"Couldn't you see that Lady Truncheon was there Harriet!" 

"I know!" 

"You must I think have been blind not to see that Lady 
Truncheon was there!" 

"I believe I must Phoebus!" 

"I'm quite positive you must Harriet!" 

"I know, mustn't I?" ^^ 

The effect is to freeze the action into a sort of unholy stasis. After 
all, Lady Truncheon is standing there in her underclothes. The 
same effect is achieved when Ponto is booted in the behind by 
Blackshirt. He flies through the air and — a long description follows. 
Ponto is left hurtling through the air, hand clasping the offended 
area. The point is that the Stein-stutter is not merely a critique 
of verbal anarchy and purposelessness, it is also a mental yawn, 
a rictus arresting sociological progress, symbolic of a suicidal vacuity 
embodied, in one instance, in the inane Finnian-Shaw family; nor 
is this purpose forgotten by Lewis in his recent Self Condemned, 
where an exchange like the following can desolatingly take place: 

13. Apes, p. 488. (Possibly there is a mild skit on Henry James at p. 462.) 

The External Approach 275 

"I went to the window." 

"Why do you go the window?" 

"Why do you go to the window?" Rene retorted, in what 
seemed a silly tu quoque. 

"I do not go to the window," Mr. Furber answered. 

"Well, I do. I always go to the window if perplexed," Rene 

"You went to the window? Why did you go to the win- 
dow, Professor?" 

It need only be added that Rene Harding is here talking to a char- 
acter who is really a leftover from The Apes. And there is a 
similarly idiotic repetition in the ringing of a telephone in a Norwich 
flat in The Red Priest. So page after page of this repetitive dialogue, 
of the type instanced above, is perfectly functional. Nothing could 
be effectively subtracted. And in passing I would point out the way 
(in The Apes) nearly every one of the above speeches terminates 
in an exclamation mark. The drama is heightened. A rhetorical 
vigor is sculpted onto the page, and makes the hollowness of the 
characters talking all the more absurd. But the most obvious satire 
of Stein is to be found in The Childermass in the person of Satters. 
Satters continually "steins ... for all he's worth," either by a 
direct stammer (" 'Y-y-y-y-y-you howwid blag-blag-blag-blag-blag- 
blag-blag-blag-' " ) or by infantile repetition of sentences such 
as this: "Pulley has been most terribly helpful and kind there's no 
use excusing himself Pulley has been most terribly helpful and kind 
— most terribly helpful and he's been kind. He's been most terribly 
kind and helpful, there are two things, he's been most kind and 
he's been terribly helpful, he's kind he can't help being — he's 
terribly." ^^ 

It is interesting to compare this passage, which is a parody of Stein, 
with an extremely similar passage written in 1954 in which the 
technique can be seen in decay. It is a serious moment in Faulk- 

14. Childermass, p. 37. 

276 Satire 

nef s A Fable: "because people are really kind, they really are 
capable of pity and compassion for the weak and orphaned and 
helpless because it is pity and compassion and they are weak and 
helpless and orphaned and people though of course you cannot, 
dare not believe that." 

In The Childermass, too, the most extensive parodies of Joyce 
appear, though in The Apes Ratner's thoughts are often presented 
also in a Joycean stream of consciousness. But Joyce is so chameleon- 
like in Ulysses that these parodies are far less telling. When the 
Bailiff shouts out to his men, " 'Net Fret Tet! Tick tear, ant Mick! 
Howillowee Willee and Fretty Frocklip ant Oliv Erminster ant 
Chrisst Waltshut! lisserndt termee!' " Lewis is commenting on the 
names he had been reading in "Work in Progress." More explicitly, 
however, we find the Bailiff "Dickensjingling." Here we must keep 
in mind that Lewis likened Joyce's method in presenting Bloom's 
thoughts to Mr. Jingle's thoughts in Pickwick Papers. In the same 
way the Bailiff says: " 'Hipe! — this once! — having putter hand 
turrer plar — take no denial — Ime rights rain — one chance more — 
lovely ladies — beautiful bilgewater — bloomingasblooming — one of 
the best — never say die — top o' the morning — Kilkenny cats — 
very!' " ^^ 

In Finnegans Wake Joyce replied to this in the study period when 
Dolph (Shem) and Kev (Shaun) are interrupted by Professor Jones 
over their thorny problem of their mother's anatomy. Lewis is here 
"the beast of boredom" arresting literary progress, lurking in an 
"Eating S.S. collar." ^^ 

There are many other parodies in Lewis' work. There is a brief 
skit on Hemingway when Rene is kicked in Self Condemned, and 

15. Ibid., p. 272. 

16. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 292. Sylvia Silence, the "girl detective," may 
be S.S.; Joyce's reference is surely too early for this to have been the Nazi political 
department. The Eton collar would be symbolical of a repressive Englishman of 
Lewis' class. In The Apes (p. 139) Willie Service has an aunt called Susan Service, 
reminiscent of Sylvia Silence, while S.S. is the nickname for Samuel Shodbutt, 
the principal character in "The Roaring Queen" of 1936. 

The External Approach 277 

there is a brilliant lampoon of murder mystery fiction at the end 
of "The Roaring Queen." Some reviewers saw a parody of Spender 
in One-Way Song. If so, it must be in something like the line "Ah 
ah! Ah ah! The Business of the Sun!" but Lewis himself denied 
that he had parodied Spender in a letter to New Britain, ^'^ and it is 
certainly not an extended one. 

From the start of his work Lewis exemplified the external ap- 
proach in depicting his characters. It is by now a platitude to point 
out the visual method of these descriptions. Yet it is interesting to 
compare his fictional descriptions of some characters in the early 
stories with their originals in the factual travel articles for The 
Tramp, The reworking shows a tremendous exaggeration of idio- 
syncrasies, reminiscent of the German Expressionist school in 
painting. But unlike a painting, a verbal picture must unfold before 
us on the printed page, bit by bit, feature by feature. This slows 
up the effect and deprives it at least of that dash to be found in Lewis' 
drawings, though it may have the compensating factor of achieving 
that necessary stasis I have mentioned. In the case of the peasant 
woman at the start of The Revenge for Love the slowly unfolding 
manner of her presentation harmonizes perfectly with her character 
and lends considerable suspense to the scene, too. But in principle 
Lewis' visual descriptions insist on the exact word, on the hard 
rather than the blurred image, and this we find a feature of Imagism 
(particularly in one of the later manifestoes, that prefacing Some 
Imagist Poets of 1915). One might call this Lewis' Vorticist de- 
scription, for Hobson at the beginning of Tarr and the Frenchman 
of "A Soldier of Humour" seen from the hotel window in his des- 
perately American suit are both fashioned for us in black and white 
outlines. Carl, of The Wild Body, also, is seen "black and white, 
dazzling skin and black patches of hair alternating." We notice 
the same clear lines with which Tarr is built up (white collar, black 
hat), and we find the same when Potter enters the Bailiff's Court in 

17. Wyndham Lewis, "Shropshire Lads or Robots?" New Britain, 2, No. 33 
(Jan. 3, 1934), 194. 

278 Satire 

The Childermass, or again at the funeral in The Vulgar Streak, to 
name only a few examples. What is not always noticed, however, 
is the way in which Lewis' ideological convictions color his de- 
scriptions of human physiology. 

For to Lewis the mouth is the representative of one of the lower 
senses. So it is nearly always described as soft, wet, mushy, pulpy, 
never as clean or hard. A plethora of instances of this comes to 
hand. The bogus Franciscan Father's mouth is "like a burst plum 
in a nest of green bristle and mildewed down," and he puts a cigarette 
Ker-Orr gives him "into the split plum, which came out in the midst 
of his beard." A prostitute in Snooty Baronet has a mouth like a 
"plum," again, while Matthew Plunkett in The Apes has "plum- 
lips." Satters has a "wet cherry-mouth," and lips like "a ripe fruit" 
or "pregnant plum." Dr. Frumpfsusan, proud of his "inferiority 
complex" of being a Jew, allows his mouth "to flower contemptu- 
ously," reminding us of Zoborov whose mouth is seen "to flower 
rather dirtily," while Stefla, Cantleman's "Spring-Mate," has lips 
like "a bull-like flower." Val's mouth in Snooty Baronet is "like 
an escaped plush lining of rich pink," ^^ Gillian's in The Revenge 
for Love is like "the inside of something slit open with a scalpel." 
That this imagery is not accidental is surely testified by the roll 
call of unpleasant, emotional characters I have just enumerated. 
Indeed, of a hateful homosexual in The Childermass we expressly 
read, "The mouth, which is a coarse hole, promises complete ab- 
sence of mind." Hanp, in Lewis' play, has a "hair-edged hole" for 
a mouth. But usually it is the female characters who have these 
squashy mouths. Lutitia, of "The War Baby," has a mouth like 
"some strenuous amoeba," ^^ while of Anastasya we read: "Her 
lips were long hard bubbles risen in the blond heavy pool of her face: 
grown forward with ape-like intensity, they refused no emotion 
noisy egress if it got so far." ^^ 

18. Snooty, p. 1; she has, also, a mouth like a "muzzle" (p. 225). 

19. Wyndham Lewis, "The War Baby," Art and Letters, n.s,, 2, No. 1 (Winter 
1918/19), 29, 31. 

20. Tarr (Chatto), pp. 91-2. 


The External Approach 279 

Further, we have already seen how essential to Lewis' satire 
it was that the comic type be a puppet, dummy, or clown; conse- 
quently nearly all his characters, even the sympathetic showmen, 
are called one of such categories at some time. Nearly all of them 
are clowns, from the "Old Colonels" at the end of The Apes to 
Ker-Orr ("a large blond clown") or Rymer, the socialist parson 
of Rotting Hill, or Father Card of The Red Priest. Rymer is seen 
in one place as an "infuriated animal," in another as a "cabotin," 
while both Eldred, the eminent though ham historian of this volume, 
and Gartsides, art teacher ne army sergeant, are described as clowns. 
(See, too, the "Kermesse" design for Blast No. 2.) And these clowns, 
condemned to act a show rather than real life, wear masks, like 
players. Of course, as suggested in my introduction, the mask may 
act as "anti-self" for some sympathetic character like Tarr, Pen- 
hale, or Penhale's sister Madeline. ^^ But it is also used to indicate 
the condition of human dummy, or fathead. Anastasya is thus "a 
mask come to life." Harriet has a "waspish witch-mask" (can we 
doubt her original after this?). The mask is used in the imagery 
of The Apes throughout,^- while the masked party at the end is 
itself a symbol of Lewis' purpose here. The word occurs continually 
in Self Condemned.^^ 

But in contrast to the soft and squashy mouth of this mask the eye 
is generally clear and hard. Nearly all sympathetic characters have 
powerful eyes, including Tarr, Blackshirt, Snooty, and Corcoran. 
Even in the unsympathetic characters the eye is likened to some- 
thing hard and metallic; often they are like discs, an object that has 
meant a lot to Lewis in his graphic work. Handley-Read sees the 
eyes of the figures in Lewis' painting "The Mud Clinic" as "discs," -* 
and elaborates on Lewis' graphic style from this point of view. The 
Frenchman fixes Ker-Orr with his eyes — "with the blankness of 
two metal discs." Zagreus' eyes are like discs. Kemp stares at people 

21. Vulgar Streak, pp. 106, 160, 166, 208, 224, 235. 

22. Apes, pp. 195, 246, 250, 252. 

23. Self Condemned, pp. 19, 25, 27, 321, 360, 400. 

24. Handley-Read, Art of Wyndham Lewis, p. 57. 

280 Satire 

''with his blank red-rimmed disk of an eye.'* ^^ In the recent Self 
Condemned we notice the "blank discs" of Mr. Furber's eyes.^^ 
But the disc, a mechanical object, began to be used by Lewis for 
other physical description. Bestre's hand is a "pudgy hieratic 
disc," while Deborah (in "Sigismund") reclines in bed, "a flat 
disc of face . . . sideways on the pillow." Gladys, "the dreary 
waitress, in her bored jazz" of "You Broke My Dream," is seen 
with a virtually Vorticist eye by Will Blood: "He models her with 
his blue eye into a bomb-like shape at once, associating with this 
a disk — a marble table — and a few other objects in the neighbour- 
hood." 27 Interestingly enough, Val once sits down at "the metal 
disk of the table" in Snooty Baronet. One could give many more 
instances of this, but in passing it is only necessary to observe how 
thoroughly, once again, Joyce understood Lewis; Ratner's face is 
called a disc in The Apes. Joyce makes Shaun say, of his face, "I 
lift my disk to him." ^^ 

Perhaps, also, I should comment on a word that has occurred in 
this connection, namely "hieratic." It crops up frequently in Lewis' 
imagery. Matthew Plunkett has a "hieratic stiffness of limb," while 
the peasant girl in The Revenge for Love walks "with a hieratic 
hip-roll." Hieratic means consecrated to sacred uses — Lewis even 
describes himself with the word in Blasting and Bombardiering — 
and one presumes that it is linked with the idea of inferior religions. 
It is generally a word Lewis associates with rigidity, calling Dorothy 
Pound once "hieratically rigid." ^^ This reminds us that Gaudier- 
Brzeska did a famous "Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound" that excited 
much comment. H. S. Ede's Savage Messiah shows a plate of 
Gaudier working on this bust which was originally to be a phallus, 
according to Horace Brodzky.^^ Epstein adds the information that 

25. Ideal Giant, p. 11. 

26. Self Condemned, p. 322. 

27. Wild Body, p. 287. 

28. Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 408. 

29. W^yndham Lewis, "Early London Environment," T. S. Eliot. A Symposium 
(London, Editions Poetry London, 1948), p. 26. 

30. Brodzky, Gaudier-Brzeska, pp. 58-62. 

The External Approach 281 

Ezra asked for it to be phallic and that Gaudier executed it in his 
famous workshop under the railway arch leading to Putney Bridge. ^^ 
Aldington calls it also a "phallic statue." ^^ This was the bust, still 
extant, which braved all weathers (and snails, according to Iris 
Barry ^^) in Violet Hunt's garden in London, until in the early 
thirties it was collected by some of Pound's admirers and erected at 
Rapallo. Possibly this controversial bust, to which Pound refers in 
his poem "Moeurs contemporains," ^^ meant something to Lewis 
in his use of the word "hieratic." 

In general, Lewis' satiric imagery fully exemplifies Bergson's idea 
of comic automatism. Nearly all his characters are called machines, 
at some stage or other, and the more often they are called me- 
chanical, the less the reader may take it Lewis likes them. "Clock- 
work" is used constantly here. Kreisler has "clockwork-like actions," 
Fredigonde moves "the ruined clock-work of her trunk," Black- 
shirt calls Ponto " 'the stupidest clock-work.' " The peasant girl 
Josef a moves with "great clockwork hips" (like Doris, one of Jack 
Cruze's pretty secretaries, who walks in front of Tristy "in clock- 
work rhythm"). So the One- Ways, the idiotic progressives of Lewis' 
satiric poem, declaim: 

Creatures of Fronts we are — designed to bustle 

Down paths lit by our eyes, on stilts of clockwork muscle — 

One can take this "clockwork" even further. Characters are often 
actually hinged hke puppets; Dougal Tandish, of The Vulgar Streak, 
smokes his cigarette with "a hinged mechanical hand." The body 
of the Lewisian comic type is composed of latches, shutters, sHdes, 
blinkers (Lily's eyes are "poached blinkers"). To develop one 
example, here is Bestre closing his mouth: "With a flexible imbrica- 
tion reminiscent of a shutter-lipped ape, a bud of tongue still show- 
ing, he shot the latch of his upper lip down in front of the nether 

31. Epstein, Let There Be Sculpture, p. 37. 

32. Aldington, Life for Life's Sake, p. 166. 

33. Iris Barry, "The Ezra Pound Period," The Bookman, 74, No. 2 (Oct. 1931), 

34. Ezra Pound, Quia Pauper Amavi (London, The Egoist Ltd., 1919), p. 17. 

282 Satire 

one, and depressed the interior extremities of his eyebrows sharply 
from their quizzing perch — only this monkey-on-a-stick mechanical 
pull — down the face's centre." The same apparatus occurs again 
and again. We find Arghol with his "upper lip shot down." Val 
will "pull her upper lip down like a latch over the under one." 
Humph's face is seen once as if shutters were working up and down 
it. Blenner meets a sailor with eyes like "little billiard balls, lids 
like metal slides." Kreisler's eyelids are caught "clapping to like 
metal shutters." A mouth opens like a latch in "Cantleman's 
Spring-Mate." La Mettrie would exult in this imagery. 

It would be redundant to go on in this fashion. Only the "shell" 
imagery should be further mentioned. For true satire, Lewis wrote 
in his London Mercury article, should be "all constructed out of 
the dry shells and pelts of things." Of the characters in The Apes 
he wrote, "In it their shells or pelts . . . come first." He is quite 
correct here. Dan's face is "a shell of mutton-fat." Ratner has a 
"shell-face." A pun is made on this imagery when Matthew Plunkett, 
who owns a collection of shells and sees people as shells, comes 
across a poster advertising Shell petrol. Kreisler, Fingal (of The 
Ideal Giant), the Franciscan "Father," Arghol, Hardcaster, Freddie 
Salmon and Agnes (of The Revenge for Love), all are at some 
time called shells. Uncle Thad, in the recent story "Doppelganger," 
is left "only a shadow, a shell" on his Vermont mountain. Rene 
Harding of Self Condemned ends as a "glacial shell" of a man. 

How much has this "philosophy of the eye" been worth as a 
literary method? This raises a problem at the heart of modern 
literature. In answering it, I cannot be concerned here with Lewis' 
minor syntactical effects. These are briefly studied by Bonamy 
Dobree in his Modern Prose Style; though finding in Lewis "an 
almost panic-stricken avoidance of the cliche," ^^ Dobree admiringly 
records Lewis' use of harsh, consonantal sounds (such as t and ck) 
in the build-up of his sentences, in an effort, Dobree feels, to goad 
the reader almost physically. 

35. Bonamy Dobree, Modern Prose Style (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1934), 
p. 51; and see p. 103. 

The External Approach 283 

In his sympathetic little study of Wyndham Lewis called A 
Master of Our Time, Geoffrey Grigson takes his stand in the ex- 
ternalist camp, and pleads that Lewis' method in fiction has re- 
vitalized modern prose: 

Tarr outside, Ulysses inside. The divergence, the eccen- 
tricity of Lewis was not apparent. Compare once more a later 
pronouncement: "I have defined art as the science of the out- 
side of things, and natural science as the science of the inside 
of things" {The Art of Being Ruled, 1926). In art the real 
life was, paradoxically, the deadness, the permanence, de- 
siderated by Tarr: the warm moil and mess of the inside — in 
that there could be no proportion, no line, no simplicity of 
structural grandeur, no art. In the one camp Joyce, or 
Lawrence, or Virginia Woolf, flux which is captured; in the 
other Lewis and that which is made and made stiff. Obviously 
Lewis was going to be in isolation . . .^^ 

And Grigson then goes on to accord the external approach in Lewis 
very high praise; Time and Western Man, first formulating this 
method for Grigson, is called "assured, deliberate, lucid criticism" 
— which is generosity itself. Finally we are told of Lewis' style: 
"Pick up a sentence, it does not bend or sag. But it means, this prose 
demands reading: it cannot be absorbed effortlessly like air." 

In The Destructive Element — "Marxist-aesthetic criticism" ac- 
cording to Stanley Edgar Hyman — Stephen Spender puts the case 
for the prosecution. Spender is here as little in love with the interior 
monologue as Grigson. Ulysses provides only "monotony of style, 
thought, content, action, and characterization . . . Stephen is so 
disastrous a failure that he is only recognizable at all by being made 
inseparable from his ashplant." But in a chapter on "The Great 
Without" Spender takes up "fiction from the outside" and arrives 
at a rejection of everything Grigson appears to admire: 

36. Geoffrey Grigson, A Master of our Time (London, Methuen, 1951), pp. 

284 Satire 

The fact is that by imposing an external order on internal 
disorder, by ruggedly insisting on and accepting only the out- 
sides of things, one does not improve matters. One merely 
shouts and grows angry with anyone who has a point of view 
different from one's own. For another point of view is sure 
to seem visceral, internal, decadent. One is, in a word, merely 
asserting that one is afraid of the symptoms which one dis- 
likes in oneself, and more particularly in other people; not 
that one can cure them. Take this insistence on the external 
into the world of politics, and what is it but fascism? It is 
saying that we must suppress the effeminate, dark members 
of our society (the Jews), we must arrange our fagade to look 
as well as possible, to appeal to the eye (the private armies), 
we must drive the symptoms of decadence underground.^^ 

I am not prepared to argue out Spender's political parallel here, 
but it is not hard to support his contention concerning the in- 
transigence of the neoclassical defense of external, or "hard," art. 
A fund of dogmatic statements is on hand. Hulme roundly states, 
"The sense of reality is inevitably connected with that of space." 
Yet Bergsonism, which Hulme championed, liberates for Lewis 
"a sightless, ganglionic mass." In Canto xlv (beginning "With 
Usura") of the Cantos, Pound goes so far as to suggest that the kind 
of hard-outline, external art he requires opposes usury. Lines 18 
and 19 of the canto tell us this clearly: 

with usura the line grows thick 
with usura is no clear demarcation 

Nor is this conceit uncommon to the neoclassicist, for it seems to 
have been independently in Lewis' mind in 1934 when he wrote, 
"the usurious banker-kings of the modern world . . . have ex- 
tremely little to do with art of any sort, except perhaps music." ^^ 

37. Stephen Spender, The Destructive Element (London, Cape, 1935), p. 214. 

38. Wyndham Lewis, "Tradesmen, Gentlemen and Artists," The Listener, 12, 
No. 298 (Sept. 26, 1934), 545. In The Vulgar Streak Penhale develops a money 
theory that seems to derive from Pound. 

The External Approach 285 

But the question is deeper than this. Of all literary forms in the 
comparatively modern world the early English novel, the picaresque 
novel of Fielding and Defoe, relied on time, owing to its strong 
narrative element. Lewis seems to be asking for a fiction that does 
not unfold in time, almost a contradiction in terms. Yet he is not 
unusual in so doing; in 1927 E. M. Forster's justly celebrated Aspects 
of the Novel takes up this matter and is obviously unhappy with 
aesthetic value being attached to time. Forster, however, con- 
cludes: "The time-sequence cannot be destroyed without carrying 
in its ruin all that should have taken its place; the novel that would 
express values only becomes uninteUigible and therefore value- 
less."^^ Joseph Frank, writing in The Sewanee Review in 1945, 
grapples ably with this problem. Starting from Lessing's Laokoon, 
which saw form in the plastic arts as necessarily spatial, Frank 
argues that a number of outstanding contemporary writers like 
Eliot, Proust, Joyce, and Pound have actually refuted Lessing's 
definitions and produced a kind of "spatial form" in their work. 
As he puts it, "the reader is intended to apprehend their work 
spatially, in a moment of time, rather than as a sequence." ^^ This 
is exemplified in the kind of concatenation (or vortex) of periods, 
cultures, and ideas latent in what Pound proposed as his "image." 
It is also to be found in Proust's highly charged "moment privilegie." 

39. E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (London, Edward Arnold, 1927), p. 
42. This liUle classic was written shortly after, and possibly in response to, Percy 
Lubbock's equally brilliant The Craft of Fiction (1921). It was followed, in 
1928, by Edwin Muir's The Structure of the Novel which takes pretentious issue 
with Forster (pp. 7-16, and Conclusion); Muir's third section deals with "Time 
and Space," and presents a thesis concerning the "spatial form" of literature 
which can hardly hold water after the experiments in this field of Joyce, Proust, 
Ehot, Pound, and others. Indeed, it is significant that Muir avoids reference to 
experimental writers in this section; his work concludes with a bitter fulmination 
against Ulysses, whose "design is arbitrary, its development feeble, its unity ques- 
tionable." Joyce's symbolism for Muir is "hardly to be taken seriously." Ulysses 
is here "formless," "loose," "clumsy," "mediocre or meretricious,"" and has every- 
where "an almost stagnant stillness." 

40. Joseph Frank, "Spatial Form in Modern Literature; Part i," The Sewanee 
Review. 53, No. 2 (Spring 1945), 225. 

286 Satire 

A number of other examples of similar literary compression come 
to mind, particularly in poetry. Briefly, Frank feels that a spatializa- 
tion of the contemporary novel has been achieved by writers like 
Joyce, Proust, and Djuna Barnes, by breaking up the ordinary 
chronological time-flow. 

This may seem obvious enough to the reader, but Frank's article 
helped me to understand Lewis' real dilemma as a writer. As 
Lawrence Durrell has pointed out, in deahng with this problem 
in his A Key to Modern British Poetry, time has taken on a com- 
pletely new significance in the novel of our age: "Time has become 
a thick opaque medium, welded to space — no longer the quickly 
flowing river of the Christian hymns, moving from here to there 
along a marked series of stages." '^^ 

It is easy to see that no author, writing after Einstein's theory of 
relativity, and wishing to be artistically honest, could ignore the 
implications of the space-time continuum. One could reject the 
idea, as Lewis did, in Time and Western Man, but one could not 
as a writer reject the innovations in language and the experiments 
in literary form dependent upon a whole new view of time for 
which Einstein (among others) is now considered largely respon- 
sible. The distortion of language to adapt itself to this new reality 
Durrell calls the "semantic disturbance." Eliot has made a famous 
comment on this. And it has been a real crisis for Lewis as a writer, 
one which in the final analysis he has failed to master. 

Frank cites three works that have, as it were, overcome time by 
being ahistorical, by closely juxtaposing past and present, and by 
relying to a minimal extent on direct chronological narrative; these 
are the Cantos, The Waste Land, and Ulysses. One at once notices 
that two of these are poems and indeed Frank admits that the best 
contemporary novels are those moving toward poetry, for that 
total reorientation of language demanded by "spatial form" is 
most fruitfully achieved, he feels, in poetry. It is not hard to con- 

41. Lawrence Durrell, A Key to Modern British Poetry (Norman, Okla., Uni- 
versity of Oklahoma Press, 1952), 31. 

The External Approach 287 

cede this. Yet I cannot help feeling that Lewis would object to 
Frank's thesis that the chronology of the psyche (which need not 
at all be a forward narrative movement) introduces the old time- 
form under a new guise. Admittedly Ulysses takes place in one 
day, and there are epiphanic moments of "spatial form" with re- 
flexive relationships for the reader in it, but the psyche of the 
characters still unfolds in time. Our eyes travel down the page. We 
read on, to learn what happens next in the thought-stream of this 
or that character. In other words, it seems to me that "spatial form," 
such as Frank suggests, would be intolerable if it obtained in the 
novel; in fact, the novel would cease to be a novel, and would be- 
come a poem. It is here, surely, that Frank's argument for the defeat 
of time, in the sense of chronological sequence, is most cogent. And 
indeed, in his brilliant article on Faulkner in Situations /, Jean-Paul 
Sartre seems to argue just this. In this essay, which among other things 
makes one feel that as a good English Parnassian Lewis should 
have been kinder to Faulkner than he was, Sartre suggests that 
Faulkner takes the infatuation with chronology to its logical con- 
clusion in The Sound and the Fury. By a technique of ''enfonce- 
ment," by working backward (and around) in this novel, Faulkner 
has for Sartre pushed Proust's method to its ultimate conclusion and 
decapitated the future, the realm of free choice. In other words he 
has created the nearest thing to a static novel and — it is centered 
on a lunatic. Thus what Gide felt to be Faulkner's lack of soul is 
here seen by Sartre as a predominantly technical consideration. This 
goes on to raise a problem nuclear to modern literature, for it is 
by technics, by the way of saying something, that the great Euro- 
pean writers of this century have felt impelled to project their vision 
— "technique as discovery" is the suggestive phrase Mark Schorer 
has used for this phenomenon. 

Lewis was, then, in the quandary of disliking everything to do 
with a literary development like that of the interior monologue, but 
being unable, if he was to be a truly modern writer, to make himself 
independent of its dislocation of language. (The same might be 

288 Satire 

argued of his attitude vis-a-vis Cubism.) The Apes is his attempt 
to create a new language, but even this work is highly dependent 
on innovations in language, and punctuation too, that were the 
result of the detested "time-philosophy." As Spender put it, not 
only did the classical Greeks have fine ears, but "the ossature is just 
as much inside an animal as the intestine; and the intestine of a 
human being is also just as much on the surface and affects the 
shell, as does the backbone." ^^ As a consequence, there is a clash 
taking place in Lewis' imagery. In The Wild Body, and in parts of 
Tarr, he arrives in the literary arena beside the genius of the pica- 
resque novel, like Fielding, exulting in human deformity and general 
extravagance. Like the early English novelist of this kind Lewis 
began by seeing life from below. Ker-Orr by no means looks down 
on the great "comic effigies" of these first stories; he himself is simply 
another type of alienated individual, equally antiromantic, though 
in his case an intellectual outlaw. This lends the eccentricity a note 
of affection, which we never find again in Lewis' satire. After about 
1920 a lack of intellectual elasticity, even a doctrinaire bigotry, a 
necessity to play the part of "enemy," instead of feeling it in- 
stinctively, begin to weigh down on this potentially fertile ebullience. 
He sees life from above. For a moment, in The Apes, this actually 
helps, and we have the English comic masterpiece of the first half 
of this century. But we note that Lewis does not satirize himself in 
The Apes,"^^ as Joyce was able to satirize himself in Finnegans 
Wake. The imagery atrophies. It becomes montonous, hectoring. 
The vocabulary shrivels. I took the liberty of documenting the use 
of favorite words in Lewis' imagery in The Childermass, for instance, 
and even a cursory inspection revealed the following: 

Shell: pp. 3, 6, 14, 29, 41, 44, 231, 233, 262. 

Disk: pp. 15, 26, 53, 58, 256. 

Mask: pp. 3, 30, 41,51, 57, 134, 148, 173, 232, 247, 258, 303. 

42. Spender, Destructive Element, p. 209. 

43. Some critics think he does, in Zagreus. 

The External Approach 289 

Doll: pp. 30, 36, 54, 302. 
Clockwork: pp. 26, 34, 52. 

The majority of these references, it will be seen, occur in the first 
part of the book, the descriptive part. In the ensuing dialogue char- 
acters are called puppets, automata, and machines about every 
third page. Indeed, we heard you the first time! is perhaps the most 
common criticism of Lewis' work I have come across. 

Yet it would be churlish to end on an ungenerous note to this 
writer, at least two of whose productions are of the very highest 
rank. "Had we but world enough and time" we might know whether 
posterity will place these beside Swift or not. For Lewis, the eye 
is life, then. Ludo, the blind beggar of Rot — a word that combines 
the name for a Breton commune and a belch (in One-Way Song 
Lewis wrote, "I belch, I bawl, I drink") — represents death and is 
the only character in The Wild Body to die. The rest are vividly 
alive. In Rotting Hill we return to Rot, here a disease affecting 
Attlee's England, so that when Rymer arrives with a patch over one 
eye in this work and eructates, he is halfway to Ludo and an ironical 
comment on his creator who was rapidly going blind during the 
writing of these stories. For there is something savagely tragic about 
the fate that has now befallen the author, in Blast No. 2, of the com- 
ment, "My soul has gone to live in my eyes, and like a bold young 
lady it lolls in those sunny windows." Lewis has faced this fate with 
characteristic courage. "Pushed into an unlighted room, the door 
banged and locked forever," he writes, "I shall have to light a 
lamp of aggressive voltage in my mind to keep at bay the night." ^^ 

44. Wyndham Lewis, "The Sea-Mists of the Winter," The Listener, 45, No. 1158 
(May 10, 1951), 765. 


Chapter i8: Time Stands Still 

'Time stands still in this land.' 

'I said it was England' Satters answers." [The Childermass, p. 86. 

In 1928 Lewis published The Childermass, a fictional satire an- 
nounced as the first section of a trilogy whose second and third parts 
were shortly to follow. It has been left to the conclusion of this 
study for two reasons. First, it contains so many of Lewis' critical 
opinions as to make it fall almost between his satires and his 
"pamphlets"; second, he himself has called it an exception in his 
canon in Rude Assignment. "It is about Heaven," he tells us there, 
"the politics of which, although bitter in the extreme, have no 
relation to those of the earth." 

Meanwhile, the two subsequent sections did not appear, and 
only came out as recently as 1955 in a volume called The Human 
Age, a title intended to subsume what has now turned into four 
parts — The Childermass, Monstre Gai, Malign Fiesta, and The 
Trial of Man. (A revised version of the first section. The Childer- 
mass, appeared in 1956.) A writer in The Times Literary Supple- 
ment, praising the work in terms alluded to above, surmises that the 
earlier extensions of the 1928 book have "either been scrapped al- 
together or very radically revised." This may well be so. E. W. F. 
Tomlin, however, in his British Council pamphlet on Lewis, seems 
to hint at a tetralogical structure visible in the original volume: 

An important clue may be found in the elaborate description 
of the grotesque court in which the Baihff conducts his busi- 
ness. The "Punch and Judy" structure in which he sits is 

Time Stands Still 291 

adorned with a variety of occult signs, chief among them being 
the symbol of the Maha-Yuga. Now the Maha-Yuga is the 
name in Vedanta doctrine for a complete cycle of history. 
Divided into four separate Yugas, it implies the successive 
decline in human righteousness, culmininating in the Kali- 
Yuga in which righteousness reaches its nadir. The repre- 
sentation of the "goat-hoof" underneath the sign in question, 
together with the recurrent imagery of the serpent's head 
(repeated on the Bailiff's banner in Monstre Gai) seems to 
imply that the world brought to judgement has reached its 
final phase. ^ 

The whole work is difficult to the point of preciosity; Yeats, who 
called the first hundred pages of the first part "a masterpiece" in a 
letter to Olivia Shakespear, also said, "It is the most obscure piece 
of writing known to me." - Reviewing The Human Age (contain- 
ing Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta) for The Sunday Times for 
October 30, 1955, Cyril Connolly was appalled by "the immense 
tedium of the whole." Parts he found "disgusting and aesthetically 
wrong," and his conclusion was that "such a prosaic tapestry of 
banal dialogue, so much creative complacency, produces in the 
end only a bumbling in the ears." ^ Perhaps because it is such a 
cromlech of acrostics (not to say a dolmen of dullness) the work has 
repelled elucidators, by far the best exposition to date being that 
of Thomas Carter in The Kenyon Review for Spring 1956, in an 
extended notice of The Human Age. 

Originally entitled "Hoadipip," and then "Joint," Lewis' most 
complex and single mystagogical satire opens on the fringes of 

1. E. W. F. Tomlin, Wyndham Lewis (London, Longmans, Green, 1955), p. 30. 

2. Yeats, Letters, p. 745. 

3. At the start of this review Connolly writes: "Twenty-seven years ago Mr. 
Lewis produced 'The Childermass,' to which The Human Age is a sequel. I 
acknowledged it with pleasurable excitement in the 'New Statesman' and now 
find myself occupied with its successor." Mr. Connolly must surely imagine us 
unable to read, for his excitement in The New Statesman for July 7, 1928, may be 
turned up and found to be anything but "pleasurable." 

292 Satire 

"Heaven." This celestial city, lying to "the heavenly north" of the 
plain where we begin, and whose battlemented shadow haunts this 
twentieth-century slaughter of the "Holy Innocents," turns out to be 
anything but a Dantesque paradise; what one character calls the 
"human age" at the end of Malign Fiesta seems to be a ghastly 
compromise between angel and animal, and in the city that is only 
glimpsed in The Childermass Lewis later dramatizes a sort of im- 
mortal folly, an existence of contemporary Struldbrugs. Blood- 
red clouds emerge from the city in the first volume and, sure enough, 
we learn in the sequels that state socialism prevails there. And 
we also have a hint in the first section that Third City, as it is 
later called, is peopled by children, or childish adults.^ 

In The Childermass we are mainly concerned with the attempts 
of two characters, Satterthwaite and Pullman, to reach this city, 
and with a Punch-like Bailiff (the "monstre gai" of the second 
part), the slaughters at whose court parallel the massacre of the 
children by Herod (Matthew 2:16) from which the book takes its 
name. The second and third sections become increasingly Swiftian, 
Miltonic, and Dantesque: there are references to Gulliver and the 
absurd names are reminiscent of Swift; in Monstre Gai there is an 
exchange of epic insults between Pullman and Sentoryen which is 
only one of many such scenes reminding one of Satan and Gabriel 
squaring up to each other (or Satan and Death) in Paradise Lost, 
whereas in one such passage the very syntax becomes Miltonic — 
"He from Hell affected dignity"; finally, a set of torture cells in Ma- 
lign Fiesta is "a kind of caricature of Dante's Inferno." In this last 
connection we have what Carter calls an "utterly debased version 
of Paola and Francesca." Yet this couple Pullman sees shows 
how little Lewis has visualized his final scenes: at p. 404 we read 
that his Paolo and Francesca are naked, "glued" together, and 
"the man exactly placed to facilitate sinful love" (my italics). Three 
pages later, we read that their posture is "lips to lips and sex to sex." 

However this may be, the action of the whole opens, then, in 

4. Childermass, p. 317. 

Time Stands Still 293 

"the suburbs of the wilderness, enclosed plots of desert, over each 
of which a peculiar solitary sun stands all day, glittering madly upon 
its apologetic fragments of vegetation." To the west of this "Plain 
of Death," as the Bailiff calls it, lies the "investing belt of Beelzebub," 
separated from the plain by a river, referred to once as the Styx. 
This is all the geography Lewis provides. 

On this purgatorial plain two characters meet, Satterthwaite and 
Pullman, generally called Satters and Pulley. Both are appellants 
for Heaven, staying at the camp on the plain provided for such. 
But unlike Bouvard and Pecuchet, whom they somewhat resemble, 
these two have met before and we do not have the satirically in- 
genuous growth of acquaintance between the kindred souls which 
Flaubert provides. Their provincial reliance on each other also re- 
minds one of Amedee and Blafaphas in Les Caves du Vatican. 

The manner of meeting between Satters and Pulley recalls yet 
another work, Aristophanes' The Birds, Here we have two char- 
acters, Pithetaerus and Euelpides, entering an unknown and ec- 
centrically peopled landscape far from the usual world, with all 
its follies. In the same way, too, Aristophanes' characters come to 
consult an authority of the new world on which they stumble, 
Tereus the Hoopoe (Lewis' Bailiff), and like Satters and Pulley 
they are nearly torn apart by the hostile birds at the beginning 
(the river peons in The Childermass) . The Nightingale's chorus 
in The Birds makes a criticism of men as half- alive shadows com- 
pared with the vital, immortal birds, which we can find in the lines 
given to Lewis' Hyperides, and there is a general atmosphere of 
farce in the City of the Skies which is to be found in the Bailiff's 
Court also. This is about as far as one should go in the comparison. 
There is also a hint of The Frogs in the ferryman business and in 
the absurd master-slave relationship between Pulley and Satters, 
reminiscent of that between Dionysus and Xanthias at the start 
of Aristophanes' drama, as also of that between Brush and Me- 
naechmus I in Plautus' The Twin Menaechmi. 

The likeness to Flaubert's posthumous satiric masterpiece is 

294 Satire 

equally suggestive, but equally superficial. I noticed that at one 
point, in his materialist reading, Bouvard soaks himself in La 
Mettrie, and in another place Pecuchet has a conversation with the 
doctor, Vaucorbeil, as to the substantiality of matter which is 
Childermassian. It is true that Flaubert called Bouvard et Pecuchet 
"mon vomissement," and wrote of it, "j'espere cracher la dedans 
le fiel qui m'etouffe," but his work is far more amenable; the two 
protagonists, though gullible and philistine, are seen with sym- 
pathy, indeed so much so that D.-L. Demorest sees the two as 
examples of intellectual and moral probity. Satters and Pulley we 
detest, and should detest, from the start. Flaubert's work is far more 
universal. It is the contemporary world that The Childermass de- 

Satters and Pulley, like the characters around them, undergo 
changes of identity in keeping with the flux of "space-time" that 
persists on the plain. Generally, however, they are both male homo- 
sexuals and generally Pulley is the leader, or Virgil. He is a "guide" 
and "little master" for Satters. He is frequently referred to as Miss 
Pullman or as a governess or "Nannie." In one place he wipes 
Satters' face for him. He is "the sage Pulley," and says, " 'Suffer 
me to lead Apes in Hell.' " ^ 

Actually, we learn that James Pullman is aged about twenty- 
eight, but he is dressed in a far more adult way than Satters, whom 
we meet in football kit and wearing a medal to which he is not 
entitled. Satters is, I think, meant to be the less likable of the 
two, is constantly referred to as a baby, and becomes more and more 
babyish as time passes; once, however, he changes sex, if becoming 
a female homosexual from a male homosexual can be considered 
such, and seems to age slightly in the process, for as a woman he 
has a wig, a paunch, and "two prominent sagging paps." Satters, 
who above all characters in the work makes us think longingly of 
the title, continually "steins" and stutters, and is obviously meant 

5. Ibid., pp. 11, 22, 42, 43, 82. 

Time Stands Still 295 

to represent Gertrude Stein just as, on one level, Pulley stands for 
James Joyce. 

Thus Pulley, to identify only one Joycean association, tells 
Satters: " 'When war was declared I was in Trieste — in Spandau, 
I should say, at the BerHtz, teaching.' " A few lines further on, he 
adds, " 'Some one pushed me over, and my glasses broke.' " ^ The 
parallel between Stein and Satters, meanwhile, is present on almost 
every page. This homosexual Jew, as we learn Satters is, turns out 
to be unpleasant as could be. To take one episode, a criticism of 
communism (and probably of what Lewis saw as transition com- 
munism at this time), the two return in time to various ages and 
on one occasion stumble across a Lilliputian Tom Paine. Speaking 
in a broad American accent, Tom Paine calls Satters " 'a disgusting 
lout,' " and when Satters seizes him bites his hand. Satters replies 
by symbolically stamping the author of the Rights of Man to death 
"in an ecstasy of cruelty." 

The two sequels have not kept the acrimony behind these char- 
acterizations. As Monstre Gai opens. Pulley is still referred to as the 
"guide," or Virgil, but he longs to throw Satters off. The latter 
still "steins" — "Pulley, wha . . . wha . . . wha . . . wha . . . 
what!" and so on — but not nearly so much; however, Satters ap- 
pears with face "twisted into the mask of a baby afflicted with wind," 
and at the end of Malign Fiesta Pullman says of his friend, "All 
his values are schoolboy values." "^ Pullman is still likened to Joyce 
by Lewis but now treated with more respect; in Third City Pulley 
carries (Hke Stephen) a "deceptively elegant" stick, and we are 
told that, like Joyce, he had once grown a beard, had been edu- 
cated by Jesuits, and "had not come out of a top-drawer." He once 
remarks, "I began life in Ireland. I am a Catholic." ^ There are 
suggestions that on earth Pulhnan wrote for profit, and he is re- 

6. Ibid., p. 94. 

7. Human Age, p. 455. 

8. Ibid., p. 205. 

296 Satire 

ferred to as "yellow" — "Didn't he run away when Plowden de- 
nounced him!" He is called a "hero-rat" in one place and is violently 
assaulted by a belligerent Irishman named O'Rourke (the Mino- 
taur), a real "citizen" of Third City. In two places in the sequels 
two of Pullman's books are seen, but on the whole this is no longer 
the Lewis who called Ulysses "the disordered spurting of the im- 
becile low-average mind" writing. The attitude to Pullman in both 
Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta is far more pleasant; as regards 
their names, it may not be going too far to suggest that the name 
Pullman recalls a sleeper, and so Molly Bloom. A "pulley," mean- 
while, is in opposition to immobility, while Satterthwaite may be 
derived from Sat-her- weight. "The Roaring Queen" opens in a 
Pullman corridor. 

Whatever the value of such speculations may be, these two then, 
Satters and Pulley, who themselves change identity, come across 
menacing and mysterious beings on their way to the BaiUff's Court. 
They have various mirages, mostly returning them in time; thus 
Satters comes across a schoolboy called Marcus Morriss with whom 
he had had homosexual relationship. They also meet literary char- 
acters, like Bill Sikes (murderer, and the Dickens connection for 
Joyce). They have a hallucination of Old England, which is 
identified by ladies' underclothes; following this skit both on the 
oversentimental idea of rustic England (the work is extremely 
Anglophobe) , as well as on the politics of the English Puritan move- 
ment, they see a "righteous phalanx of incestuous masculine ma- 
trons" with Eton crops and "revolutionary cockades." These are 
the Mothers, the new woman of the twenties we have seen Lewis 
deriding above. They turn out to be on the side of children, com- 
munism, and indiscipline in all its forms. Pulley leaps to serve them, 
"he is the gelded herd-dog." This vision of the Mothers, satirizing 
the development of the suffragette movement and of female emanci- 
pation in general, gives way to a vision of the Fathers, "matronly 
papas" who are Big Business, and dispense, "meat-pale sunkist 
fleshings of celanese silk stuffed with chocolates, crossword-puzzles, 

Time Stands Still 297 

tombola-tickets for crystal-sets, and free-passes for war films, to 
the million-headed herd of tiny tots of all ages but one size." ^ 

The two then enter the deepest clouds of "space-time" in which 
everything shifts and changes in a Bergsonian hell. Here Lewis puts 
the idea of "duree" into crazy practice. "La verite est qu'on change 
sans cesse," ^^ might be the epigraph for this section from U Evolu- 
tion creatrice. The objective world is here turned into a farce of 
flux, and perhaps Lewis was merely exaggerating Bergson's com- 
ment in Le Rire: "nous ne voyons pas les choses memes; nous nous 
bornons, le plus souvent, a lire des etiquettes collees sur elles." ^^ 
One can even trace verbal similarities. Macrob, a Scottish ap- 
pellant at the Bailiff's Court, opposes the idea of becoming and 
change advocated by the Bailiff and is stamped on and cut to pieces 
for his pains. In one place he says, " This static degradation is 
the opposite, even, of the becoming to which you are so partial.' " ^^ 
In U Evolution creatrice Bergson develops his thesis of reality losing 
in time the more it extends in space, and in this context writes of 
the extra-spatial "se degradant en spatialite." ^^ 

Eventually Satters and Pulley make their way to the Yang gate; 
we later learn that there is a Yin, or female, gate, but no woman 
puts in an appearance in this first work, though of course most of 
the appellants are half -women. It is also notable that they generally 
wander around in crowds ("herds"). Here the Bailiff arrives, her- 
alded by trumpets, and proceeds to hold court. From here until the 
end of the work the action takes place mainly in this one spot, 
becoming at the end a series of dramatic speeches. As I. A. Richards 
puts it: "In deliberate and extreme contrast with these minute 
particulars of the sensory action, intellectual action is flung wide 
open. Platonic socratic care is taken not to pin anything down, 

9. Childermass, p. 92 (note the topicality of this, though of course for crystal 
sets we might today substitute television sets without damaging the criticism). 

10. Bergson, L'£volution creatrice, p. 2. 

11. Bergson, Le Rire, p. 155. 

12. Childermass, p. 227. 

13. Bergson, L' Evolution creatrice, p. 226. 

298 Satire 

not to let any speech sum up, answer any question or, merely, put 
it fairly." ^^ 

This Bailiff should not be confused with the somewhat autobi- 
ographical Bailiff "billed" in the first section of One-Way Song, 
despite the fact that we read that his is "a one-way world" in Malign 
Fiesta. This latter character, whose habits, we are told, are Swift's, 
holds a sort of school class and criticizes "Backness" (cult of 
primitivity in the arts). He tells us, for instance, that he long ago 
advised his class to " 'Say it with locomotives!' " (i.e. advocated the 
assimilation of the machine into art) but now feels that this has 
gone far enough: " 'You said it with locomotives honies! That will 
do I guess for to-night.' " ^^ It should be remembered that One-Way 
Song was written at the time of the New Signatures group who were 
showing such an uncritical infatuation with the machine in poetry. 

The Bailiff of The Childermass is everything Lewis dislikes. " 'Le 
mob c'est moil' " is his admitted motto and he boasts of his Bill of 
Wrongs: " 'Primitive and proud of it that's my motto.' " He is, of 
course, idolized by Satters and Pulley, especially in his debate with 
the Greek Hyperides, with whom Lewis himself identifies. Yet the 
emblem of the Bailiff is an eye, and he himself has an extraor- 
dinary eye; furthermore. Pulley tells us that the Bailiff recommends 
the intellect and will. If this means anything, I think it means that 
the Bailiff sails under a false flag, that he is an intellectual traitor, 
wearing the colors of clerc but betraying his office. This is seen 
directly he starts to deal with the different appellants and reveals 
his cynical, pseudo-revolutionary "time-philosophy." We later learn 
that the Bergsonian Bailiff has a French-speaking mother, that he 
is nonhuman (Monstre Gai) and yet "Oriental" {Malign Fiesta). 

A number of arguments take place and the Bailiff becomes char- 
acterized as repressive, arbitrary, and Bergsonian. Some of these 
speeches, however, are highly puzzling. I. A. Richards writes, "to 

14. I. A. Richards, "Talk," B.B.C. Third Programme, transmission, March 10, 
1952, originally recorded, New York, November 4, 1951. Typescript. 

15. One-Way Song, pp. 11-12. 

Time Stands Still 299 

an agonising degree we're not allowed to know what it is all about. 
That very ignorance may be, of course, what it is all about." I 
cannot help feeling that Richards, either consciously or uncon- 
sciously, puts his finger on a point here, for the book is about 
"ignorance" (or Bergsonism, for Lewis). Does not Pulley counsel 
Satters to hold in mind the maxim, " 'Nothing is but thinking makes 
it so' "? 

At times the Bailiff does phrase some Lewisian sentiments, espe- 
cially at the end, in his clash with Hyperides and Hyperides' men. 
But this is presumably explained by Hyperides when he catches 
the Bailiff out thieving ideas (the theme of plagiarism, which began 
to obsess Lewis about this time). So Richards writes: "By these 
means the book disowns a doctrine. Of course, plenty of Pulleys 
will become completely and perfectly positive what its doctrine is, 
and what they think about it. They will tell us it is an attack on 
Bergson, on Christianity, on the time cult, on the child cult or on 
homosexuahsticism [sic], and so forth. Good. Let them. That again 
is what Pullman Pulleys are for. Fine little governess dons they 
be." i« 

This is disarming. But one should not let such strictures deter 
one from the effort of finding out what the work is about, and in 
fact Richards gives a useful working catalogue of what The Childer- 
mass is attacking. For if it is really about nothing — and not, rather, 
about philosophical ideas which Lewis thinks equal nothing — then 
it is not worth reading at all. A work about "ignorance" in the true 
sense, a book composed of the lowing of cattle, say, or (as are 
some comic books) of the noises of guns, would make unrewarding 

The Childermass is about "ignorance" in the fonn of "time- 
philosophy." The Bailiff explains "space-time," the element in which 
the purgatorial plain is cast, as precisely everything Lewis at- 
tacked in Time and Western Man. One can refer constantly from 
the Bailiff's speeches to the critical works Lewis wrote in the twenties 

16. Richards, loc. cit. 

300 Satire 

and thirties, and vice versa. To do so here would be repetitive. It 
is much more interesting to glance at the positive side of the work. 

The Bailiff is just giving a prevaricating answer to an appellant, 
who has dared to ask whether there is anything in the challenge 
recently made against Time, when a champion of this point of 
view enters "from the contrary pole." This is the Greek Hyperides, 
the "legendary enemy" of the Bailiff. The two are "the oldest op- 
posites in the universe," and later we are again reminded that they 
are the opposing principles, and principals. The first question put 
by the direct and forthright Hyperides goes home: " 'Would it 
not be true, sir, to say that in your magical philosophy there is only 
Time, that it is essentially with Time that you operate?' " 

They have an exchange and there follows a series of speeches by 
Hyperides in which he puts his position. ^^ It is one directly opposed 
to "time-philosophy" and it is, of course, greeted with derision, and 
shouts of "Bloody Male!" from the Bailiff's admiring audience. 

Hyperides, however, is not alone. "The last aryan hero," he has 
his faction. He himself is carried about in a litter in the pose of 
Michelangelo's most famous "Nude Youth," we read that he has a 
"smashed michelangelesque nose" — Michelangelo's nose was broken 
by a fellow student, according to one theory — and again we are told 
that he resembles a "florentine painter." His face is, like Lewis' 
own, dark — "a mask of force, a dark cameo, in the centre of the 
crowds of faces." If Lewis partially identifies with Zagreus, as some 
critics like to believe, then this is the second work in which he has 
put himself into the position of privilege, by means of a classical 
name. Zagreus was the son of Zeus and Persephone, torn to pieces 
by the Titans. Hyperides was the Attic orator, many of whose 
speeches were only found in the last century. Both characters are 
partly incarnations of their classical namesakes. 

For it is really a funeral oration over a moribund culture that 
Hyperides pronounces in his long speeches in The Childermass. 
So at once he challenges the Bailiff: 

17. Childermass, pp. 150-7. 

Time Stands Still 301 

"Is not your Space-Time for all practical purposes only the 
formula recently popularized to accommodate the empirical 
sensational chaos? Did not the human genius redeem us for 
a moment from that, building a world of human-divinity 
above that flux? Are not your kind betraying us again in the 
name of exact research to the savage and mechanical nature 
we had overcome . . . That Time-factor that our kinsman 
the Greek removed, and that you have put back to obsess, with 
its movement, everything — what is that accomplishing except 
the breaking-down of all our concrete world into a dynamical 
flux . . ."i« 

He goes on to accuse the Bailiff of the cult of action. Pulley feels 
uncomfortable here, for of Pulley-Joyce we read that "action is 
everything; to keep moving is the idea, this is the law of his ex- 
istence." This criticism of Joyce as a "Fidgety Phil who couldn't 
keep still" is the same as Plato's of the ideal of busy-ness in the 
Phaedo; of Joyce, of course, it is a view neither probative nor 
cogent. The Bailiff's position is now what Lewis conceives as 
Bergsonian: " *there is no you apart from what you perceive: 
your senses and you with them are all that you habitually see and 
touch: I am a part of you at this moment: those battlements are 
becoming you.' " Again, the Bailiff says, " 'Time is the mind of 
Space — Space is the mere body of Time. Time is life, Time is money, 
Time is all good things! — Time is God!' " ^^ To this philosophy 
Hyperides and his men object. Hyperides designates as its outriders 
the youth cult, the revolutionary orthodoxy, and the sex war: " 'The 
male principle is scarcely your favourite principle where the human 
herd is concerned . . . you would drive back mankind into the 
protozoic slime for the purposes of your despotism where you can 
rule them like an undifferentiated marine underworld or like an 

18. Ibid., pp. 152-3. 

19. Ibid., pp. 222, 227. The latter passage is similar to, and may be a parody 
of, George Gissing's words in The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (London, 
1914), p. 287. 

302 Satire 

insect-swarm . . . you are drilling an army of tremulous earth- 
worms to overthrow our human principle of life, not in open battle 
but by sentimental or cultural infection.' " Until the end of the first 
book, as we now have it, this division obtains. Against the classical 
Hyperides stands the romantic Bailiff. The last fifty pages, how- 
ever, are confusing. Here the Bailiff makes a long attack on Hy- 
perides, indicting the Greek for being a Fascist "Crowd-master." 
The Hyperideans he calls "class-conscious herd-midgets." It seems 
that the Bailiff, at a loss for argument, is merely borrowing the 
notions of Hyperides himself. Hyperides indeed replies, "'You 
wish to turn the tables on me, puppet, by suggesting that I am no 
more a person than yourself I see.' " The Bailiff replies and there 
occur suggestions that he is appealing to Hyperides as might one 
cynical power-politician to another. 

Hyperides remains unimpressed by this appeal. One of his 
ligueurs, the Action Frangaise Alectryon, speaks for him and then 
Hyperides returns to the debate himself. The Bailiff then objects 
that Hyperides is overdogmatic: "It is only when we close our eyes 
— and open our ears for instance — that we realize how strangely 
unlike the purely visual world our datum can be. You are so over- 
whelmed with the concrete reality of everything — your intellect 
has it all its own way." To which Hyperides answers, " 'You of 
course are the philosopher.' " He goes on to rephrase the visual 
point of view, and the two continue their acrimonious exchanges, 
incidentally calling each other apes. 

In the sequel, Monstre Gai, Pulley and Satters enter Third (or 
Magnetic) City by permission of the Bailiff — upon which Pullman 
experiences "a tremendously violent romantic disillusion." The 
place, indeed, far from being a prelude to Heaven, turns out to be 
closer to a Lewisian Hell. It is peopled by vacuous youth cultists: 
"Perhaps fifty per cent of the city is the desiccated remains of the 
youth-propaganda of forty years ago," remarks a character called 
Mannock — and there is no work, only "an ideal of averageness." 
Money is free; there is a spoof of social credit in this connection. 

Time Stands Still 303 

The city is, in fact, an amalgam of almost everything Lewis has 
criticized in contemporary Western society: State socialism, the left- 
wing orthodoxy (Pullman discovers "there there would be no wings 
in a Bailiff-world except left-wings" ),2^ Negro-worship (some of 
the Baihff's henchmen are colored), homosexuality, and now even 
the new teddy-boys. In Malign Fiesta a weird, tortured figure, a 
"World Bird," appears, his back tattoed with a map of the world in 
which we see statism rampant. In the course of the book a conflict 
develops in intellectual terms between the detestable Bailiff (repre- 
senting Hell) and an heroic Padishah (representing Heaven). Of 
this latter character we read, "Clearly everything to do with Man 
filled him with an immense fatigue," and he consigns women to a 
compound in which they are periodically tortured and brutalized. 
In Malign Fiesta a Jewish guard is seen kicking a woman prisoner 
of the upper classes in a parodistic reversal of the concentration 
camp horrors of our century. This punishment center is looked 
after by Sammael, a totalitarian Puritan who executes his office 
with gruesome efficiency. These horror scenes have been highly 
praised for their graphic power, and Thomas Carter writes of them 
as follows: "Some of the harrowing presence of these scenes un- 
doubtedly comes from Lewis' knowledge of London during the 
Blitz." 2^ Unfortunately, Lewis was in Canada during the Blitz. 

Even so, Carter writes suggestively of Malign Fiesta, which ends, 
as he puts it, in an "ironic apotheosis of the banal," ^- a proposed 
liquidation of this Hell itself by mating angels and sinners in a 
final holocaust, a "humanization of the divine." Praying, in terror, 
Pullman is at the end of this work "rescued" by two storm-trooper 
angels from his fate. A spoof of science-fiction brings to a close 
what Tomlin believes to be "one of the most prodigious imaginative 
creations of the present century, perhaps the only great work to come 

20. Human Age, p. 148. 

21. Thomas H. Carter, "Rationalist in Hell," The Kenyan Review, 18, No. 2 
(Spring 1956), 332. 

22. Ibid., p. 335. 

304 Satire 

out of the Cold War, and the climax of Lewis' literary career." ^s 
Here one is finally forced back on opinion; is the "nightmarish 
existence, where the supernatural was real," of Monstre Gai and 
Malign Fiesta (with their bad French and worse German) really 
anything more than a sort of grand guignol museum piece? Does 
it not in its "horrible nullity" boast of the author's own savage hatred 
of humanity, as no other works of Lewis have before? When we 
read of the Padishah that "there was no one good enough, or 
supernatural enough, for him to communicate with," we realize with 
a jolt that Swift cared, and that Lewis no longer seems to do so. 
Indeed, Lewis tells us at the end of The Demon of Progress in the 
Arts that "talking about the alarming outlook for the fine arts 
appears so trivial a matter when one has finished writing about it. 
It is infected with the triviality of everything else." ^^ If you are 
in that mood, as William Barrett suggested in his review of the book 
for The New York Times Book Review of October 30, 1955, you 
are unlikely to be in the best frame of mind for writing enduring 
literature. Compare the nihilism of The Human Age with that of 
Waiting for Godot. 

The first part of The Human Age ends, then, on what Macrob had 
called the ultimate question — the reality of the Bailiff, and of his 
detestable philosophy. The Bailiff had himself earlier denied his 
own reality, but had suggested that he was real in that even the 
Hyperideans accepted him as real. But at the very end, in the last 
lines, the challenge is flung like a glove at the reader by Polemon, 
a leading Hyperidean who recurs in Monstre Gai: " 'Who is to be 
real — this hyperbolical puppet or we? Answer oh destiny!' " 

It is, of course, a gage flung in front of the reader implicating the 
whole of Lewis' work, and only destiny will decide it. Yet already, 
because Lewis has deliberately associated his creative work so 
closely with his critical, he has seriously endangered the former. 
At the start of this study I mentioned Lewis' claim that his criticism 

23. Tomlin, Lewis, p. 27. 

24. Demon of Progress, p. 97. 

Time Stands Still 305 

was merely written in defense of his creative work. But the critical 
has now swamped the creative, and indeed vulgarized it with propa- 
ganda. Of course, there is divergence of opinion here. Self Con- 
demned has been called a "masterpiece." The story "Time the 
Tiger" from Rotting Hill is considered by Hugh Kenner "a triumph 
of poise," ^^ whereas William K. Rose, writing in Furioso, calls it "a 
feeble story." ^^ There will always be debates of this sort in the 
philosophe press, no doubt, yet Rotting Hill — the pun on Notting 
Hill being suggested by Pound ^^ — seems to me not only one of 
Lewis' weakest satires but one which shows signs of defending his 
criticism. This would prove a table-turning, indeed. And what 
creative work was The Writer and the Absolute aimed to protect? 
The contemporary reviews of The Childermass presaged this 
crisis. Lewis claims, in Rude Assignment, that the book had a 
singularly quiet reception. In fact, it was widely and usually de- 
rogatorily reviewed. Of course, much of this was Blimpish disap- 
proval of the difficulty of the prose. The Times Literary Supple- 
ment for July 19, 1928, called it "difficult and disjointed," and 
L. P. Hartley thought it "unintelligible" in the London Saturday 
Review for July 28. Raymond Mortimer, who has never been 
charitable to Lewis' work, was driven into what can only be called 
a venomous review in The Nation and Athenaeum for June 23. 
For Mortimer The Childermass was diseased; it contained "a posi- 
tively pathological absence of all intellectual control. No doubt the 
book will have a great success among those whose admiration for a 
writer increases in proportion to their inability to understand what 
he is saying." Apart from this sort of review, however, the work 
was judged far more on its critical than on its creative content. 
Joseph Wood Krutch, for example, reviewing it in The New York 
Herald Tribune for September 2, 1928, found it a "new classffica- 

25. Kenner, "The War with Time," p. 49. 

26. William K. Rose, "Rotting Hill," Furioso (Fall 1952), p. 55. 

27. Wyndham Lewis, "Ezra: The Portrait of a Personality," Quarterly Review 
of Literature, 5, No. 2 (Dec. 1949), 140. 

306 Satire 

tion of the forces at work in modern society." Two of the most 
interesting reviews of this sort, on either side of the Atlantic, came 
from Cyril Connolly and Lionel Trilling. Writing in The New 
Statesman for July 7, 1928, Connolly took occasion to consider, 
and consider brilliantly, the whole neoclassical attack. He found 
it invalid, and The Childermass Fascist. Above all, Connolly found 
the antiromantic approach sterile: "The Age of Reason is past, and 
neither the balance of Greece, nor the detachment of China, the 
Action Fran^aise, the neo-Thomists, nor even Mr. Lewis and his 
virile desperadoes will ever put Humpty-Dumpty together again." -^ 
Lionel Trilling, writing in the New York Evening Post for Septem- 
ber 22, 1928, and writing with his customary perspicuity, was 
even more severe in his judgment. Lewis' prose was "arrogant," his 
ideas traditional. And Trilling concluded: "There remains to Mr. 
Lewis a quality that must prevent him from being the considerable 
corrective and pedagogic force that it is his potentiality to be. That 
quality is his anger. His anger will not keep him from being read. 
But it will prevent him from being granted the accord which he 
must be seeking from the best spirits. He had far better, for effective- 
ness and safety, have chosen the Olympian calm or the humor he 
has doctrinated in his own The Wild Body." 

If Lewis would object to this that he is seeking neither "accord" 
nor "safety," yet it is true that of all his works The Childermass has 
the least "Olympian calm." Philip Henderson equally criticizes 
Lewis' satires, not for being too close to his criticism so much as 
for being invahdated by the nature of that criticism: "Nor is vital 
satire possible except in relation to a substantial body of belief, 
and apart from Communism, which Lewis rejects, our age offers 
no belief that a man can hold without insulting his intelligence." ^^ 
Here Lewis would say that he was one of those who never saw com- 
munism as anything but an insult to the intelligence. Henderson, 

28. Cyril Connolly, "Chang," The New Statesman, 31, No. 793 (July 7, 1928), 

29. Philip Henderson, The Novel Today (London, John Lane, 1936), p. 98. 

Time Stands Still 307 

however, feels that this lack of real ideological root in Lewis' work 
robs it of creative power: "The fact remains that Joyce's Leopold 
Bloom and Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway are far more con- 
vincingly human creations than any of Lewis's grotesques." ^^ 

But it must not be thought, from criticism such as this, that Lewis 
has not had his supporters. He has had many, if few of them scholarly. 
And if one is to pass judgment on his work with any balance, one 
cannot approach it in the spirit of Hugh Gordon Porteus' Wyndham 
Lewis: A Discursive Exposition, so partial it seems to place its 
subject above every satirist in literature. Not only is Lewis here 
"more serious and profound" than Joyce, he possesses the instru- 
ments of satire more perfectly than anyone "in the known history 
of literature." ^^ 

What Lewis' ultimate position will be it is hard to say. It is 
principally hard because he is such an erratic writer. There are 
so many levels of achievement in his work, from the inspired verbal 
vigor of the best of The Apes down to the weak urbanity of Rotting 
Hill and the longueurs of The Red Priest. There is an equal range 
in his criticism, too, from the challenging and succinct sallies of 
The Doom of Youth to the turgid, repetitive, and contradictory 
America and Cosmic Man. Nor does it really help matters to be 
told that Lewis is a writer of the future, for I find references allesin^ 
that his external approach is just about to be discovered in con- 
temporary letters since about 1920. 

Is Lewis a great satirist? Is only his hatred creative, as Ernest 
Sutherland Bates and G. W. Stonier both suggest? Is he fatally 
limited by what Pound calls *'the peeve"? Pound, indeed, has called 
satire "surgery, insertions and amputations." ^^ We may concede 
Lewis the first and last of these abilities, but his "insertions" seem 
to me limited because of what I can only call critical bigotry. This 

30. Ibid., p. 102. 

31. Hugh Gordon Porteus, Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive Exposition (Lon- 
don, Desmond Harmsworth, 1932), pp. 195, 204. 

32. Pound, Pavannes, and Divisions, p. 225. 

308 Satire 

will be, nay should be, set down to some decided disagreement with 
the wilder of this criticism, yet a satirist like Flaubert, Swift, or 
Rabelais may surely contribute positively through his saeva in- 
dignatio, through showing us literary coin whose reverse face holds 
out hope. 

In any final estimate of Lewis he cannot be called an affirmative 
writer, yet no fully committed satirist can really be such. George 
Aitken wrote of Swift that "the satirist must, in the end, take a 
lower place than the creative writer." On the other hand, in his 
Essay on Satire, Dryden seems to oppose this prejudice and approve 
Heinsius' belief that satire must inevitably be severely destructive 
(and one thinks, too, of Dryden's pseudonymous references to 
living originals). For Kenneth Burke, Lewis is merely, however, a 
writer of "burlesque," a man full of "mannerisms" rather than 
"manner," or style. Is Burke's charge admissible, that Lewis' "ex- 
coriations arise from a suppressed fear of death, or, in other words, 
from religiosity frustrated by disbeUef"? ^^ Certainly Lewis' con- 
stant, almost paranoid lust for destruction seems to be a sign of 
insecurity in the spirit, of uncertainty in the belief. 

There is one feature immediately apparent in any assessment 
of Lewis' performance, and that is a high degree of divergence 
among the inteUigentsia. In the case of Joyce there is no such prob- 
lem really, because the intelligence is all on one side. Detraction 
does not mean too much when it comes from such pens as oc- 
casionally scribble against Joyce, usually from England (the whole 
question of Joyce-baiting by the British is well taken up via V. S. 
Pritchett's recent attack by W. Y. Tindall in The New Republic 
for June 25, 1956). But in the case of Lewis there is considerable 
division within the educated pubHc itself. 

First, it can be said that his stock has gone up immeasurably in 
recent years. Studies of contemporary literature by younger British 
critics, such as G. S. Fraser or Walter Allen, almost invariably 

33. Kenneth Burke, Attitudes toward History (New York, The New Republic, 
1937), 1, 63. 

Time Stands Still 309 

accord Lewis a very high place in letters today. Walter Allen has, 
in fact, called Lewis "one of the few original minds of our time." 
Hugh Kenner agrees: "No other living novehst has such power at 
his command." George Woodcock, in The New Yorker for June 
4, 1955, thinks Lewis "the most resolute intellectual of our age." 
For Cyril Connolly, Lewis' work now contains "some of the most 
vigorous satire, original description and profound criticism pro- 
duced by the twentieth century." ^"^ "The man of genius who pos- 
sessed no talents," is Horace Gregory's neat summary of Lewis 
in The New York Times Book Review for August 22, 1954, while 
Russell Kirk has recently compared him with Coleridge and named 
him "one of the few English men of letters in our time whose books 
probably will be remembered, if books are remembered, a century 
from now." ^^ T. S. Eliot's praise, already frequently quoted, must 
be by now the best known of all these various tributes; "the greatest 
prose master of my generation," Eliot called Lewis in 1955, "per- 
haps the only one to have invented a new style." ^^ 

Yet one does not have to look far to find Lewis not so much 
being attacked as being dismissed with utter contempt. Steven 
Marcus refers to Lewis in Commentary as a "highbrow know- 
nothing." "Stop to examine the breezy flow of Lewis' prose on 
any point," advises William Barrett, an associate editor of Partisan 
Review, "and the vulgarity of the mind behind it is startling." Irving 
Howe, author of some brilliant criticism in the contemporary field, 
writes: "when a charlatan like Wyndham Lewis is revived and 
praised for his wisdom, it is done, predictably, by a Hugh Kenner 
in the Hudson Review." ^^ For F. R. Leavis, Lewis is equally Httle 
worth bothering about. In The Common Pursuit Leavis treats Lewis 

34. Connolly, Enemies of Promise, p. 60. 

35. Russell Kirk, "Wyndham Lewis's First Principles," The Yale Review, 44, 
No. 4 (Summer 1955), 521. 

36. T. S. Eliot, "A Note on Monstre Gai," The Hudson Review, 7, No. 4 
(Winter 1955), 526. 

37. Irving Howe, "This Age of Conformity," Partisan Review, 21, No. 1 
(Jan./Feb. 1954), 17. 


310 Satire 

with the greatest contempt, but it must be noticed that he is only 
deahng with Lewis here in the context of adulation for D. H. 
Lawrence. Lewis is thus "excited," incapable of proper thought, 
and "as unqualified to discriminate between the profound insight 
and the superficial romantic illusion, as anyone who could have 
been hit on." ^^ This criticism is followed up in Leavis' more recent 
study of Lawrence, where any note of consideration for Lewis 
disappears: "It may perhaps be suggested that, if Mr. Wyndham 
Lewis's brilliance illustrates a capacity for 'what we ordinarily call 
thinking,' then Lawrence's strength is to lack that capacity." ^^ 

Wyndham Lewis has been seen in these pages as a contempo- 
rary neoclassicist, and it is seriously to be doubted that this neo- 
classical approach is positive, especially as we find it in Lewis. 
Unwittingly, perhaps, he puts the case against himself: "the ro- 
mantic traditional outlook . . . results in most men living in an 
historic past." ^^ We are too "historical," he argues; even when we 
satirize ourselves, we do not satirize what we are, only what we 
have been. We tend to laugh at the foibles of our past, and so fail 
to progress. Only the laugher, therefore, lives for only he, the true 
"person" of Lewis' political ideal, sees all satirically, externally, non- 
romantically, in a perpetual present. Only this man is fully con- 

This would be all very well, if the exigencies of the present time 
permitted it. But not only does Lewis' critical position bind itself 
too closely to tradition to allow for the present at all, it also insists 
on continually assailing the present in a parti pris fashion. This 
insistence on particularities, on assaiHng our time and not all time, 
robs his satire of universality. Much of his work is contemporary 
in allusion, and some of it only contemporary. Is it just possible that 

38. F. R. Leavis, The Common Pursuit, New York, George W. Stewart, 1952, 
pp. 243-4. 

39. F. R. Leavis, D. H. Lawrence: Novelist (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 
1956), p. 11. 

40. Diabolical Principle, p. 144. 

41. Paleface, p. 270. 

Time Stands Still 311 

Lewis' loss in powers of observation may be due to the "apriorist 
heresy," to his approaching reahty subjectively (not to say, ro- 
mantically), selecting from it data to confirm his theories? There 
are large areas of twentieth-century experience left untouched by 
Lewis' work, voluminous though it may be. One cannot say the 
same of Joyce. The recent satires show a serious loss of control of 
his material by Lewis, and if this decline continues, as one earnestly 
hopes it may not, we shall be faced with the spectacle of a potentially 
great satiric genius vitiated by prejudice. 

At the same time, lest these words seem unduly harsh, it must 
be remembered that I am not taking into account Lewis' graphic 
work. Secondly, this failure, if failure it be, is one of our age. As 
the true artist grows less important in society, so the pressure falls 
on him more and more to try to influence society by his writings. 
Pound, Eliot, and Lewis have all spent a considerable part of their 
energies in such activity. Alone, of the "men of 1914," Joyce 
had the heroic abihty to stand apart. Perhaps unconsciously again 
Lewis writes his own epitaph for his work when the Finnish poet 
cribs from Boileau at Lord Osmund's Lenten party: 

Muse, changeons de style, et quittons la satire! 
C'est un mechant metier que celui de medire! 
A I'auteur qui I'embrasse il est toujours fatal — 
Le mal qu'on dit d'autrui ne produit que du mal! 


Checklist of the Writings of Wyndham Lewis 

The following is a chronological checklist of the writings of Percy 
Wyndham Lewis. No attempt is made to list Lewis' graphic publications, 
such as his Fifteen Drawings (Ovid Press, Jan. 1920), his Timon of 
Athens, his illustrations for such works by other authors as Naomi 
Mitchison's Beyond This Limit, Ford Madox Ford's Antwerp, or 
Sacheverell Sitwell's Doctor Donne and Gargantua, nor his many draw- 
ings contributed to periodicals and newspapers. It is an attempt to collect 
his written work only. 


"The Pole," The English Review, 2 (May), 255-65. 

"Some Innkeepers and Bestre," The English Review, 2 (June), 471-84. 

"Les Saltimbanques," The English Review, 3 (Aug.), 76-87. 


"A Spanish Household," The Tramp: an Open Air Magazine (June/ 

July), pp. 356-60. 
"A Breton Innkeeper," The Tramp: an Open Air Magazine (Aug.), pp. 

"Le Pere Frangois (A Full-Length Portrait of a Tramp)," The Tramp: 

an Open Air Magazine (Sept.), pp. 517-21. 
"GrignoUes (Brittany)," The Tramp: an Open Air Magazine (Dec), 

p. 246. [Poem.] 


"Unlucky for Pringle," The Tramp: an Open Air Magazine (Feb.), pp. 


"The Cubist Room," The Egoist, 1, No. 1 (Jan.), 8-9. 
"Epstein and His Critics, or Nietzsche and His Friends," The New Age, 
N.S., 14, No. 10 (Jan. 8), 319. [Letter.] 



"Mr. Arthur Rose's Offer," The New Age, N.S., 14, No. 15 (Feb. 12), 

479. [Letter.] 
"Modern Art," The New Age, N.S. 14, No. 22 (April 2), 703. [Letter.] 
"A Man of the Week: Marinetti," The New Weekly, 1, No. 1 1 (May 30), 

" 'Automobilism,' " The New Weekly, 2, No. 1 (June 20), 13. 

"Long Live the Vortex!" [Edi- 

Manifestoes . . . 

"The Enemy of the Stars" [1st 

"Vortices and Notes" 

"Frederick Spencer Gore" 

Blast No. 1 (June 
20), London, John 
Lane, the Bodley 

' PP- ^~^- 

pp. 11-43. 
pp. 51-85. 

pp. 127-49. 
[ p. 150. 

[Copies of Blast with deletions by the U. S. Censors made in some of 
Pound's poems can be seen in the Houghton Library at Harvard Uni- 



Notice to Public 

"War Notes" 

"Artists and the War" 

"The Exploitation of Blood" 

"The Six Hundred, Verestchagin 
and Uccello" 

"Marinetti's Occupation" 

"A Review of Contemporary Art" 

"The Art of the Great Race" 

"Five Art Notes" 

"Vortex *Be Thyself " 

"The Crowd Master" [1st Ver- 
sion. Title hyphenated on Con- 
tents page] 

Preface, "Mayvale" by H. E. Clifton and James Wood, The Cambridge 
Magazine, 5, No. 8 (Dec. 4), 173. 

Blast No. 2, War 
Number (July), 
London, John Lane, 
the Bodley Head, 

'pp. 5-6. 
p. 7. 

pp. 8-16. 
pp. 23-4. 
p. 24. 
pp. 25-6. 

p. 26. 
p. 38. 
pp. 70-2. 
pp. 77-82. 
pp. 91-3. 
pp. 94-102. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 317 


"The French Poodle," The Egoist, 3 No. 3 (March 1), 39-41. [Includes 

a drawing of Lewis by Roald Kristian.] 
"Serial Story.— Tarr," The Egoist, 3, No. 4 (April 1), 54-63; No. 5 

(May 1), 72-9; No. 6 (June 1), 90-4; No. 7 (July 1), 107-10; No. 

8 (Aug.), 122-5; No. 9 (Sept.), 139-43; No. 10 (Oct.), 155-8; 

No. 11 (Nov.), 170-3; No. 12 (Dec), 184-6. 


"Serial Story.— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 1 (Jan.), 10-15; No. 2 (Feb.), 

"Serial Story— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 3 (April), 39-41; No. 4 
(May), pp. 60-1. 

"Imaginary Letters, i," The Little Review, 4, No. 1 (May), 19-23. 

"Serial Story— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 5 (June), 75-8. 

"Imaginary Letters, ii," The Little Review, 4, No. 2 (June), 22-6. 

"Serial Story— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 6 (July), 93-5. 

"Imaginary Letters, iii," The Little Review, 4, No. 3 (July), 3-7. ["The 
Code of a Herdsman."] 

"Serial Story— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 7 (Aug.), 106-9; No. 8 
(Sept.), 123-7. 

"Inferior Religions," The Little Review, 4, No. 5 (Sept.), 3-8. 

"Serial Story— Tarr," The Egoist, 4, No. 9 (Oct.), 138-41. 

"Cantleman's Spring-Mate," The Little Review, 4, No. 6 (Oct.), 8-14. 
[The name Cantleman is variously spelt in The Little Review; the 
spelling given here is that usually adopted by Wyndham Lewis, espe- 
cially in the later Blasting and Bombardiering. This issue of The Little 
Review was incidentally disallowed by the United States postal au- 
thorities on the grounds of obscenity in the story by Lewis. They were 
taken to court by the Editress, Miss Anderson, but won their case.] 

"Serial Story— Tarr: and Epilogue," The Egoist, 4, No. 10 (Nov.), 

"A Soldier of Humour, l," The Little Review, 4, No. 8 (Dec), 32-46. 

The Ideal Giant, The Code of a Herdsman, Cantelman's Spring-Mate, 
privately printed for the London Office of the Little Review by Shield 

318 Bibliography 

and Spring. [Reprints "Cantleman's Spring-Mate." P. 37 drops the 
hyphen in this title.] 


"A Soldier of Humour, ii," The Little Review, 4, No. 9 (Jan.), 35-51. 

[Vol. 5 appears, but this and subsequent errata are corrected by the 

Editress in the August issue.] 
"Imaginary Letters, viii," The Little Review, 4, No. 11 (March), 23-30. 
"Imaginary Letters, ix," The Little Review, 4, No. 12 (April), 50-4. 
"The Ideal Giant," The Little Review, 5, No. 1 (May), 1-18. [Reprints 

this play from the 1917 pubUcation of this name.] 
Tarr. London, The Egoist Ltd. 1 
Tarr. New York, Alfred A. Knopf. J •^"^>'- 

[Reprints and expands "Serial Story — Tarr." Ruthven Todd (^.v.) 
maintains that the Knopf edition antedated the British edition by three 
weeks. The English Catalogue of Books gives July as month of pub- 
lication. The United States Catalogue does not record the publication. 
June appears on the verso of the title page of the Knopf Tarr. How- 
ever, The Times Literary Supplement acknowledges The Egoist Ltd. 
edition, on July 4, and reviews on July 1 1 , while the American Pub- 
lisher's Weekly only acknowledges the Knopf Tarr on July 20, as does 
The Nation (which reviews August 17); the New York Times ac- 
knowledges July 21.] 
"The War Baby," Art and Letters, N.S., 2, No. 1 (Winter), 14-41. 


Foreword, Guns, Catalogue of an Exhibition by Wyndham Lewis, Lon- 
don, Goupil Gallery, February, unpaged. [Foreword is dated Janu- 

"The Men Who Will Paint Hell. Modern War as a Theme for the Artist," 
The Daily Express, No. 5,877 (Feb. 10), p. 4. 

"Mr. Wadsworth's Exhibition of Woodcuts," Art and Letters, 2, No. 2 
(Spring), 85-9. 

"What Art Now?" The English Review, 28 (April), 334-8. 

"i. Nature and the Monster of Design," The Athenaeum, No. 4673 (Nov. 
21), pp. 1230-1. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 


"Prevalent Design, ii. Tainting of the Soul,'" The Athenaeum, No. 
4676 (Dec. 12), p. 1343. 

"Prevalent Design, in. The Man behind the Eyes," The Athenaeum, 
No. 4678 (Dec. 26), p. 1404. 

"Harold Oilman," Harold Oilman: An Appreciation by Wyndham Lewis 
and Louis F. Fergusson, London, Chatto and Windus. Pp. 7-15. [No 
entry in The English Catalogue of Books. Reviewed mid-December in 
The Times Literary Supplement.] 

The Caliph's Design. Architects! Where Is Your Vortex? London, The 
Egoist Ltd. [Again no entry in The English Catalogue of Books. The 
Publisher's Circular acknowledges on November 1, but The Athe- 
naeum notices on October 31, The Observer on November 2, and The 
Times Literary Supplement on November 13.] 

[The following lecture was given this year by Lewis: "Modern Tend- 
encies in Art," Conference Hall, Central Buildings, Westminster, Lon- 
don. October 22.] 


"Prevalent Design, iv. The Bulldog Eye's Depredations," The Athe- 
naeum, No. 4681 (Jan. 16), pp. 84-5. 

"Mr. Clive Bell and 'Wilcoxism,' " The Athenaeum, No. 4689 (March 
12), p. 349. [Letter.] 

"Mr. Clive Bell and 'Wilcoxism,' " The Athenaeum, No. 4691 (March 
26), p. 425. [Letter.] 

Foreword, "X" Group, London, Maddox Galleries, April. [?] 

"Sigismund," Art and Letters, 3, No. 1 (Winter), 14-31. 


'Note on Tyros" [Editorial] 
'Notes on Current Painting, 

i: The Children of the 

New Epoch" 
'Notes on Current Painting, 

ii: Roger Fry's Role of 

Continental Mediator" 
'Will Eccles" 

The Tyro: A Review of the 
Arts of Painting, Sculpture, 
and Design, No. 1, London, 
The Egoist Press, April, 

p. 2. 
p. 3. 



"Foreword: Tyros and Portraits," Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings 
and Drawings by Wyndham Lewis, London, Leicester Galleries, April, 
pp. 5-8. 

"The Coming Academy," Sunday Express, No. 121 (April 24), p. 3. 

"Paris Versus the World," The Dial, 71, No. 1 (July), 22-7. 


"The Credentials of the Painter — 1," The English Review, 34 (Jan.) 

"The Credentials of the Painter — 2," The English Review, 34 (April), 

"The Long and the Short of It," Evening Standard (April 28), p. 3. 
"The Worse-than-Ever Academy," Sunday Express, No. 174 (April 

30), p. 5. 


"A Preamble for the 
Usual Public" 

"Recent Painting in Lon- 
don. The Finance Ex- 

"Essay on the Objective 
of Plastic Art in Our 

"Tyronic Dialogues. — ^X. 
and F." 

"Bestre" [revises "Some 
Innkeepers and Bes- 

The Tyro: A Review of the 
Arts of Painting, Sculpture, 
and Design, No. 2. London, 
The Egoist Press, 

p. 3. 
pp. 3-9. 

pp. 9-10. 

pp. 21-37. 

pp. 46-9. 
pp. 53-63. 


'Mr. Zagreus and the Split-Man," The Criterion, 2, No. 6 (Feb.), 124- 

'The Strange Actor," The New Statesman, 22, No. 563 (Feb. 2), 474- 


Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 321 

"The Young Methusaleh," The New Statesman, 22, No. 567 (March 1), 

"The Apes of God," The Criterion, 2, No. 7 (April), 300-10. 
"The Dress-Body-Mind Aggregate," The New Statesman, 23, No. 579 

(May 24), 191. 
"Art-Chronicle," The Criterion, 2, No. 8 (July), 477-82; 3, No. 9 

(Oct.), 107-13. 


[Review of G. Elliot Smith, Essays on the Evolution of Man; G. Elliot 

Smith and Warren R. Dawson, Egyptian Mummies; W. H. R. Rivers, 

Medicine, Magic and Religion], The Criterion, 3, No. 10 (Jan.), 

"The Dithyrambic Spectator: An Essay on the Origins and Survivals of 

Art, Introduction," The Calendar of Modern Letters, 1, No. 2 (April), 

"The Dithyrambic Spectator: An Essay on the Origins and Survivals of 

Art, Part ii," The Calendar of Modern Letters, 1, No. 3 (May), 194- 

"The Foxes' Case," The Calendar of Modern Letters, 2, No. 8 (Oct.), 

"The Physics of the Not-Self," The Chapbook {A Yearly Miscellany), 

ed. Harold Monro. London, Jonathan Cape. No. 40, pp. 68-77. 


"Britons Never ShaU Be Bees" [review of Beaverbrook, Politicians and 
the Press], The Calendar of Modern Letters, 2, No. 11 (Jan.), 360-2. 

"The New Roman Empire," The Calendar of Modern Letters, 2, No. 12 
(Feb.), 411-20. 

The Art of Being Ruled. London, Chatto and Windus. March. 

"Creatures of Habit and Creatures of Change," The Calendar, 3, No. 1 
(April), 17-44. 

Tarr. New York, Alfred A. Knopf. July. 

The Art of Being Ruled. New York, Harper. September. 




"Preliminary Note to 


"What's in a Namesake?" 

"The Revolutionary Sim- 

The Enemy: A Review 
of Art and Literature, 
vol. 1, London, The Ar- 
thur Press. January (i.e. 

pp. vu-viu. 

pp. ix-xv. 
pp. 19-23. 
pp. 25-192. 

The Lion and the Fox. The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare. 

London, Grant Richards. January. [Reprints "The Foxes' Case."] 
The Lion and the Fox. The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare. 

New York, Harper. March. 
"The Values of the Doctrine behind 'Subjective' Art," The Criterion, 6, 

No. 1 (July), 4-13. 

'Notes Regarding Details of 
Publication and Distribu- 

'Editorial Notes" 


'Paleface: or 'Love? What Ho! 
SmelUng Strangeness' " 

'The 'Blessings of the Sophisti- 
cated School of Literature' " 

The Enemy: A Re- 
view of Art and 
Literature, No. 2. 
London, The Ar- 
thur Press. Septem- 

pp. vu-x. 

pp. xi-xxxi. 
pp. xxxiii-xl. 

pp. 3-110. 
pp. 111-12. 

Time and Western Man. London, Chatto and Windus. September. [Re- 
prints "The Revolutionary Simpleton."] 

The Wild Body: A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories. London, Chatto 
and Windus. December. [Reprints "A Soldier of Humour, i," "A Sol- 
dier of Humour, ii," "Inferior ReUgions," and "Sigismund." Reprints 
and revises "The Pole," "Les Saltimbanques," "Le Pere Francois," 
and "Will Eccles." Incorporates and expands material from "A Span- 
ish Household," "A Breton Innkeeper."] 


The Wild Body. New York, Harcourt, Brace. March. 

The Childermass: Section i. London, Chatto and Windus. June. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 


The Childermass: Part I. New York, Covici-Friede. September. 

Tarr. London, Chatto and Windus, the Phoenix Library. [Revises 1st 

Time and Western Man. New York, Harcourt, Brace. [Adds new Pref- 


"Enemy Bulletin" 
"The Diabolical Principle" 
"Details Regarding Publica- 
tion and Distribution" 
"Editorial Notes" 

The Enemy, No. 3, Lon- 
1. don, The Arthur Press. 

pp. vu-vni. 
pp. 9-84. 
p. 90. 



"A World Art and Tradition," Drawing and Design, 5, No. 32 (Feb.), 
29-30, 56. 

[Answer to questionnaire.] The Little Review (Spring Number, May), 
p. 49. 

Paleface: The Philosophy of the "Melting Pot." London, Chatto and 
Windus. May. [Reprints "The Values of the Doctrine behind 'Subjec- 
tive' Art." Reprints and expands "Paleface."] 

Preface, H. Somerville, Madness in Shakespearian Tragedy. London, 
The Richards Press. Pp. 1-8. July. 

"*** If _ _ ^ ^ 7 *** fji^" Daily Herald, No. 9,200 (Oct. 25), p. 10. 


"Sex and the Child," Daily Mail, No. 10,625 (May 15), p. 10. 

The Apes of God. London, The Arthur Press. June. Limited edition. 

[Reprints "Mr. Zagreus and the Split-Man" and "The Apes of God."] 
Satire and Fiction, also "Have with You to Great Queen Street!" The 

History of a Rejected Review, by Roy Campbell. London, The Artliur 

Press, Enemy Pamphlets, No. 1 . September. 


"Hitlerism — Man and Doctrine; the Weimar Republic and the Dritte 
Reich," Time and Tide, 12, No. 3 (Jan. 17), 59-60. 

324 Bibliography 

"Hitlerism — Man and Doctrine: Berlin im Licht!" Time and Tide, 12, 

No. 4 (Jan. 24), 87-8. 
"Hitlerism — Man and Doctrine: The Oneness of 'Hitlerism' and of Hit- 
ler," Time and Tide, 12, No. 5 (Jan. 31), 119-20. 
"Hitlerism — Man and Doctrine: The Doctrine of the BlutsgefUhl," Time 

and Tide, 12, No. 6 (Feb. 7), 151-2. 
"Hitlerism — Man and Doctrine: Creditcrankery Rampant," Time and 

Tide, 12, No. 7 (Feb. 14), 182-5. 
"Nebulae in Brussels Sprouts" [review of Britton, Hunger and Love], 

Time and Tide, 12, No. 9 (Feb. 28), 255-6. 
Hitler. London, Chatto and Windus. April. [Reprints the "Hitlerism" 

"The Son of Woman" [review of Middleton Murry, Son of Woman], 

Time and Tide, 12, No. 16 (April 18), 470-2. 
The Diabolical Principle and the Dithyrambic Spectator. London, 

Chatto and Windus. May. [Reprints "The Dithyrambic Spectator" 

and "The Diabolical Principle."] 
"Youth-Politics. Foreword: The Everymans," Time and Tide, 12, No. 

24 (June 13), 703-4. 
"Youth-PoUtics. The Age-Complex," Time and Tide, 12, No. 25 (June 

20), 738-40. 
"Youth-Politics. Youth-Politics upon the Super-Tax Plane," Time and 

Tide, 12, No. 26 (June 27), 770-2. 
"Youth-Politics. There Is Nothing Big Business Can't Ration," Time and 

Tide, 12, No. 27 (July 4), 798-800. 
"Youth-Politics. The Class-War of Parents and Children," Time and 

Tide, 12, No. 28 (July 11), 826-8. 
"Youth-Politics. Government by Inferiority-Complex," Time and Tide, 

72, No. 29 (July 18), 854-5. 
"Youth-Politics. How Youth-PoUtics Will AboUsh Youth," Time and 

Tide, 12, No. 30 (July 25), 883-4. 
"FiUbusters in Barbary. High Table: the Packet to Africa," Everyman, 

6, No. 144 (Oct. 29), 437-8. 
"Filibusters in Barbary. Turning Darks into Whites," Everyman, 6, No. 

146 (Nov. 12), 492. 
"Filibusters in Barbary. Islamic Sensations," Everyman, 6, No. 148 

(Nov. 26), 583. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis* Writings 325 

The Apes of God. London, Nash and Grayson. November. [Cheap edi- 
tion, reproduced photographically.] 

"Filibusters in Barbary. A Deserted African Lido," Everyman, 6, No. 
150 (Dec. 10), 660. 

"Filibusters in Barbary. Petrol-Tin Town," Everyman, 6, No. 152 (Dec. 
24), 724, 726. 


"Filibusters in Barbary. The Mouth of the Sahara," Everyman, 6, No. 
154 (Jan. 7), 793-4. 

The Apes of God. New York, Robert M. McBride. January. 

"A Tip from the Augean Stable," Time and Tide, 13, No. 12 (March 
19), 322-4; No. 13 (March 26), 348-9. [Announced as an Enemy 
Pamphlet to deal with "the decay of Uterary standards," this last title 
has found its way in book form into records of Lewis' work. In fact, 
although a book of this name is advertised as "Ready Shortly" on the 
jacket of The Enemy of the Stars, only the above articles appeared.] 

The Doom of Youth. New York, Robert M. McBride. April. [March 
appears on verso of title page. Reprints the "Youth-Pohtics" articles.] 

"The Artist as Crowd," The Twentieth Century, 3, No. 14 (April), 12- 

The Wild Body. London, Chatto and Windus, the Centaur Library. May. 

"What It Feels Like to Be an Enemy," Daily Herald, No. 5082 (May 
30), p. 8. 

Filibusters in Barbary (Record of a Visit to the Sous). London, Grayson 
and Grayson. June. [Reprints the "Filibusters in Barbary" articles. 
Withdrawn after publication.] 

"Fenelon and His Valet," Time and Tide, 13, No. 25 (June 18), 673-4. 

"The Artist and the New Gothic," Time and Tide, 13, No. 26 (June 25), 

"Flaubert as a Marxist," Time and Tide, 13, No. 27 (July 2), 737-8. 

The Doom of Youth. London, Chatto and Windus. July. [Withdrawn 
after publication.] 

The Enemy of the Stars. London, Desmond Harmsworth. July. [Revises 
and reprints "The Enemy of the Stars" and "The Physics of the Not- 

326 Bibliography 

Snooty Baronet. London, Cassell. September. 

Filibusters in Barbary. New York, Robert M. McBride. September. 

[Also New York, National Travel Club edition.] 
"Notes on the Way," Time and Tide, 13, No. 41 (Oct. 8), 1072-3; No. 

42 (Oct. 15), 1098-1100. 
"Notes on the Way," "A Historical Close-up" [review of Collier and 

Lang, Just the Other Day], Time and Tide, 13, No. 43 (Oct. 22), 

1129-32. Autumn Book Supplement, p. 1154. 
"Notes on the Way," Time and Tide, 13, No. 44 (Oct. 29), 1174-5. 
Thirty Personalities and a S elf-Portrait. London, Desmond Harmsworth. 

November. [Limited edition. Three pages of text.] 
Hitler und sein Werk in englischer Beleuchtung, einzig berechtigte 

deutsche Ausgabe. BerUn, Verlag von Reimar Robbing. [Translates 

Hitler. No translator acknowledged.] 


The Old Gang and the New Gang. London, Desmond Harmsworth. 

"Poor Brave Little Barbary," Daily Herald, No. 5508 (Oct. 10), p. 10. 

The Apes of God. London, Grayson and Grayson. November. [Cheap 

One-Way Song. London, Faber and Faber. November. [Title page reads, 
Engine Fight-Talk, The Song of the Militant Romance, If So the Man 
You Are, One-Way Song, Envoi.] 

" 'One Way Song,' " New Britain, 2, No. 30 (Dec. 13), 121. [Letter.] 

"What Are the Berbers?" The Bookman, 85, No. 507 (December Christ- 
mas Number), 183-6. 


"Shropshire Lads or Robots?" New Britain, 2, No. 33 (Jan. 3), 194. 
"Shropshire Lads or Robots Again," New Britain, 2, No. 34 (Jan. 10), 

"The Dumb Ox: A Study of Ernest Hemingway," Life and Letters, 10, 

No. 52 (April), 33-45. 
"In Praise of Outsiders," The New Statesman and Nation, 7, No. 168, 

(May 12), 709-10. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 327 

"A Moralist with a Corn Cob: A Study of William Faulkner," Lije and 

Letters, 10, No. 54 (June), 312-28. 
"The Dumb Ox: A Study of Ernest Hemingway," The American Review, 

3, No. 3 (June), 189-212. [Reprints from Lije and Letters.] 
"Art in a Machine Age," The Bookman, 86, No. 514 (July), 184-7. 

[Abstracts an address delivered at Oxford University.] 
"Keyserling" [review of Keyserling, Problems of Personal Life], Time 

and Tide, 15, No. 31 (Aug. 4), 984-5. 
"Rousseau" [review of Cobban, Rousseau and the Modern State], Time 

and Tide, 15, No. 33 (Aug. 18), 1034-5. 
"Nationalism," The Bookman, 86, No. 516 (Sept.), 276-8. 
"A Communist Abroad" [review of Dos Passos, In All Countries], Time 

and Tide, 15, No. 37 (Sept. 15), 1141-2. 
"Tradesmen, Gentlemen and Artists" [review of Eric Gill, Art], The 

Listener, 12, No. 298 (Sept. 26), 545. 
Men without Art. London, Cassell. October. [Reprints "Fenelon and His 

Valet," "Flaubert as Marxist," "The Dumb Ox," "A Morahst with a 

Corn Cob," "The Artist and the New Gothic," and portions of Satire 

and Fiction.] 
"'Classical Revival' in England," The Bookman, 87, No. 517 (Oct.), 

"Studies in the Art of Laughter," The London Mercury, 30, No. 180 

(Oct.), 509-15. 
[Answer to an inquiry.] New Verse, No. 11 (Oct.), pp. 7-8. 
"One Picture Is More than Enough," Time and Tide, 15, No. 41 (Oct. 

13), 1252-3. 
"Power-Feeling and Machine-Age Art," Time and Tide, 15, No. 42 

(Oct. 20), 1312-14. 
"Plain Home-Builder: Where Is Your Vorticist?" The Architectural Re- 
view: A Magazine of Architecture and Decoration, 76, No. 456 

(Nov.), 155-8. 
"Art in Industry," Time and Tide, 15, No. 45 (Nov. 10), 1410-12. 
"Sitwell Circus" [review of Edith Sitwell, Aspects of Modern Poetry], 

Time and Tide, 15, No. 46 (Nov. 17), 1480. 

328 Bibliography 


"Wyndham Lewis," Beginnings [by various hands], ed. L. A. G. Strong. 

London, Thomas Nelson. Pp. 91-103. March. 
"Notes on the Way," Time and Tide, No. 9 (March 2), 304-6 [unm- 

dexed]; No. 10 (March 9), 332-4; No. 11 (March 16), 390-2; No. 

12 (March 23), 425-7; No. 13 (March 30), 456-8. 
"Art and Patronage (i)," The B.B.C. Annual London, British Broad- 
casting Corporation. Pp. 184-7. April. 
"First Aid for the Unorthodox," The London Mercury, 32, No. 187 

(May), 27-32. 
"Freedom that Destroys Itself," The Listener, 13, No. 330 (May 8), 

793-4. [Broadcast talk. B.B.C. National Service, transmission 10.00 

P.M., April 30.] 
"Among the British Islanders — Art and Literature," The Listener, 13, 

No. 337 (June 26), 1108-9. 
"Martian Opinions," The Listener, 14, No. 340 (July 17), 125. [Letter.] 


"V," Freedom [by various hands]. London, George Allen and Unwin. 
January. [Reprints the broadcast talk, "Freedom That Destroys 

"Mr. Ervine and the Poets," The Observer, No. 7,549 (Feb. 2), p. 13. 

Leit Wings over Europe: or, How to Make a War about Nothing. Lon- 
don, Cape. June. [2d printing August.] 

"The Roaring Queen." London, Jonathan Cape. [This novel was with- 
drawn before publication. The Houghton Library at Harvard Uni- 
versity has a re-cased proof copy. Crown 8vo, 256 pp., printed by the 
Alden Press Ltd., Oxford. The front cover bears the printed legend: 
"Duplicate Proof for Retention / Does not contain Proof Reader's 


" 'Left Wings' and the C 3 Mind," The British Union Quarterly, 1, No. 1 
(Jan./April), 22-34. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 329 

Count Your Dead: They Are Alive! or A New War in the Making. Lon- 
don, Lovat Dickson. April. 
The Revenge for Love. London, Cassell. May. 
"My Reply to Mr. Aldington. A Defence of Style: The Novel and the 

Newspaper," John O'London's Weekly and the Outline, 37, No. 952 

(July 9), 555-6. 
"Insel und Weltreich," Europdische Revue, xiii Jahrgang, Heft 9 (Sept.), 

Blasting and Bombardiering. London, Eyre and Spottiswoode. October. 

[Reprints parts of Blast, with minor revisions.] 
"A Letter to the Editor," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec), 

2/4 pages unpaged. [Letter to the Wyndham Lewis Double Number. 

[Introduction], Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings by Wyndham Lewis, 

London, Leicester Galleries, December, pp. 7-9. 


"Pictures as Investments: A Straight Talk. Some Possible Gold Mines of 
Tomorrow," John O'London's Weekly, 38, No. 985 (Feb. 25), 852, 

"Lawrence von Arabien," "Der Tod des Ankou," Europdische Revue, 
XIV Jahrgang, Heft 3 (Marz), 200-5, 215-24. [Translates "The 
Death of the Ankou" from The Wild Body. The article on T. E. Law- 
rence is translated by Hans Wiifert, the story by the Editor, Joachim 

"Art and Nature," The Times, No. 47, 983 (May 2), p. 17. [Letter.] 

The Revenge for Love. London, Cassell. August. [Cheap edition.] 

The Mysterious Mr. Bull. London, Robert Hale. November. [In this 
book The Roaring Queen is announced as previously published "By 
the Same Author." This work, which Charles Handley-Read has picked 
up, and mis-spelt, did not in fact appear.] 

"The Zoo," London Guyed, ed. WiUiam Kimber. London, Hutchinson. 
Pp. 167-88. 

Die Rache fiir Liebe, trans. Hans Rudolf Rieder. Essen, Essener Verlag- 

330 Bibliography 


The Jews, Are They Human? London, Allen and Unwin. March. 

Count Your Dead. London, Davies. March. [Cheap edition.] 

"John Bright und die engUsche Aussenpohtik," Europaische Revue, xv 

Jahrgang, Heft 4 (April), 358-64. 
Wyndham Lewis the Artist, from ''Blast" to Burlington House. London, 

Laidlaw and Laidlaw. May. [Reprints "Notes and Vortices," The 

Caliph's Design, "Essay on the Objective of Plastic Art in Our Time," 

and "Art and Nature."] 
The Hitler Cult. London, Dent. December. 
Der mysteriose John Bull. Bin Tugendspiegel des Engldnders, trans. Hans 

Rudolf Rieder. Essen, Essener Verlagsanstalt. [Reprints "John Bright 

und die englische Aussenpohtik."] 


"Picasso," The Kenyon Review, 2, No. 2 (Spring), 196-211. 

"The End of Abstract Art," The New Republic, 102, No. 14 (April 1), 

[Letter], The New Republic, 102, No. 21 (May 20), 675. 
America, I Presume. New York, Howell, Soskin. August. 
[The following lecture was given this year by Lewis: "Should American 

Art Differ from European Art?" Columbia University in the City of 

New York, February 14.] 


"How Would You Expect the English to Behave?" Saturday Night: The 
Canadian Weekly, 57, No. 4 (Oct. 4), 18-19. 

"Reasons Why an Enghshman Is an Englishman," Saturday Night: The 
Canadian Weekly, 57, No. 10 (Nov. 15), 34b. 

The Vulgar Streak. London, Robert Hale. December. [No entry in The 
English Catalogue of Books. My date is derived from The Times Liter- 
ary Supplement, where it is "ready" December 8, as advertised on 
December 6, and reviewed December 27.] 

Anglosaxony: A League That Works. Toronto, The Ryerson Press. [Dis- 
tributed in the U.S.A. by Bruce Humphries Inc., Boston. Pp. 208-9 
reprint p. 162 of The Hitler Cult.] 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 331 


"That 'Now-or-Never' Spirit," Saturday Night: The Canadian Weekly, 

57, No. 40 (June 13), 6. 
"What Books for Total War," Saturday Night: The Canadian Weekly, 

57, No. 5 (Oct. 10), 16. 


[The following lecture was given this year by Lewis: "The Meaning of 
Ughness, in Rouault, Picasso, and others," The Arts Club of Chicago, 
February 29.] 


"The Cosmic Uniform of Peace," The Sewanee Review, 53, No. 4 
(Autumn), 507-31. 


"Canadian Nature and Its Painters," The Listener, 36, No. 920 (Aug. 

29), 267-8. 
"De Tocqueville and Democracy," The Sewanee Review, 54, No. 4 

(Autumn), 555-75. 
"American Melting Pot," Contact Books, Vol. 2 ("Britain between East 

and West"). London, Contact Books, George Weidenfeld and Nicol- 

son Ltd. October. Pp. 56-9. 
"The Art of Gwen John," The Listener, 36, No. 926 (Oct. 10), 484. 
"Moore and Hepworth," The Listener, 36, No. 927, (Oct. 17), 505-6. 


"Round the Art Galleries," The Listener, 37, No. 944 (Feb. 13), 283. 

"A Crisis of Thought" [broadcast talk]. London, B.B.C. Third Pro- 
gramme, transmission, 8.00-8.20 P.M., March 16. 

" 'Puritans of the Steppes' " The Listener, 37, No. 949 (April 3), 508- 

"Round the Art Exhibitions," The Listener, 38, No. 978 (Oct. 23), 736. 

332 Bibliography 


"The Brotherhood," The Listener, 39, No. 1004 (April 22), 672. 

"The Pre-RaphaeUte Brotherhood," The Listener, 39, No. 1006 (May 
6), 743. [Letter.] 

"Augustus John and the Royal Academy," The Listener, 39, No. 1007 
(May 13), 794. 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 39, No. 1011 (June 
10), 944. 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 39, No. 1012 (June 
17), 980. 

"Standards in Art Criticism," The Listener, 39, No. 1013 (June 24), 
1009. [Letter.] 

America and Cosmic Man. London, Nicholson and Watson. July. 
[Falsely entered as by D. B. Wyndham Lewis in Whitaker's Cumula- 
tive Book List, Part xcviii, Jan. to Dec, 1948, p. 138.] 

"Standards in Art Criticism," The Listener, 40, No. 1014 (July 1), 22. 
[Letter.] No. 1015 (July 8), 61-3. [Letter.] No. 1016 (July 15), 99- 
100. [Letter.] No. 1017 (July 22), 133. [Letter.] 

"Early London Environment," T. S. Eliot. A Symposium. London, Edi- 
tions Poetry London, 1948. September. Pp. 24-32. 

"Round the London Art Exhibitions," The Listener, 40, No. 1029 (Oct. 
14), 572. 

"The Rot: A Narrative," Wales, 8, No. 30 (Nov.), 574-89. 


"The Chantrey Collection at the Academy," The Listener, 41, No. 1042 
(Jan. 13), 65. 

"Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 41, No. 1050 (March 10), 

"Painting in America," The Listener, 41, No. 1054 (April 7), 584. 

Introduction, Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, and Water- 
colours by Wyndham Lewis. London, Redfern Gallery, May 5, 2 pages 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 41, No. 1059 (May 
12), 811-12. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 333 

Note, Catalogue, Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, Book Illustrations, 

and Designs for the Theatre by Michael Ayr ton, arranged by the 

Wakefield City Art Gallery, May, 1 page unpaged. 
America and Cosmic Man. New York, Doubleday. June. 
"The London Art Galleries," The Listener, 41, No. 1063 (June 9), 988. 
"Edward Wadsworth: 1889-1949," The Listener, 41, No. 1066 (June 

30), 1107. 
"The London Galleries," The Listener, 42, No. 1068 (July 14), 68. 
"Bread and Ballyhoo," The Listener, 42, No. 1076 (Sept. 8), 407. 
"Round the Art Galleries," The Listener, 42, No. 1082 (Oct. 20), 686. 
"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 42, No. 1086 (Nov. 

17), 860. 
"Ezra: The Portrait of a Personality," Quarterly Review of Literature, 

5, No. 2 (Dec.), 136-44. 
"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 42, No. 1088 (Dec. 

1), 959. [Letter.] 


"Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 1095 (Jan. 19), 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 1099 (Feb. 

16), 298. 
"Fernand Leger at the Tate Gallery," The Listener, 43, No. 1101 

(March 2), 396. 
"Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 1104 (March 23), 

"Contemporary Art at the Tate," The Listener, 43, No. 1106 (April 6), 

"Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 1108 (April 20), 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 43, No. 1112 (May 

18), 878-9. 
''RoundthQLondonGallQviQs;' The Listener, 44, No. 1120 (July 13), 62. 
"A Note on Michael Ayrton," Nine, 2, No. 3 (Aug.), 184-5. 
"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 44, No. 1129 (Sept. 

21), 388. 

334 Bibliography 

"Ezra Pound," Ezra Pound. A Collection of Essays edited by Peter Rus- 
sell to Be Presented to Ezra Pound on His Sixty-fifth Birthday. Lon- 
don, Peter Nevill. October. Pp. 257-66. [Carries the date "1948." This 
work was subsequently published as An Examination of Ezra Pound, 
Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1950. Reprints "Ezra: The Portrait 
of a Personality."] 

Rude Assignment: A Narrative of My Career Up-to-date. London, Hutch- 
inson. November. [Reprints "A Crisis of Thought."] 

"Round the London Art Galleries," The Listener, 44, No. 1132 (Nov. 
9), 508. 

"Henry Moore's 'Head of a Child' " [letter], "Round the London Art 
Galleries," The Listener, No. 1135 (Nov. 30), 647, 650. 

"A Negro Artist," The Listener, 44, No. 1136 (Dec. 7), 696; No. 1137 
(Dec. 14), 745. [Letter.] No. 1139 (Dec. 28), 839. [Letter.] 


"Nature and Art," The Listener, 45, No. 1140 (Jan. 4), 22 [Letter.] No. 
1141 (Jan. 11), 63. [Letter.] 

"Nature and Art," [letter], "Round the London Galleries," The Listener, 
45, No. 1142 (Jan. 18), 106, 110. 

"Nature and Art," The Listener, 45, No. 1143 (Jan. 25), 145. [Letter.] 

"The Rock Drill" [review of The Letters of Ezra Pound}, The New States- 
man and Nation, 41, No. 1048 (April 7), 398. 

"The Sea-Mists of the Winter," The Listener, 45, No. 1158 (May 10), 
765. [Announces total blindness.] 

Tarr. London, Methuen. June. [Reprints revised edition.] 

Rotting Hill. London, Methuen. December. [Reprints "The Rot."] 


"Augustus John Looks Back" [review of John, Chiaroscuro], The Lis- 
tener, 47, No. 1203 (March 20), 476-9. 

Rotting Hill. Chicago, Henry Regnery. April. 

The Writer and the Absolute. London, Methuen. June. 

The Revenge for Love. London, Methuen. June. [Reprints the 1937 edi- 

The Revenge for Love. Chicago, Henry Regnery. October. [Reprints the 
1937 edition.] 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 335 


"Imaginary Letters," "Cantleman's Spring-Mate," Answer to a Question- 
naire, The Little Review Anthology, ed. Margaret Anderson. New 
York, Hermitage House, 1953. Pp. 110-28, 137-43, 370. [Reprints 
from The Little Review.^ 

"The Rebellious Patient," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/Autumn), 


"Doppelganger: A Story," Encounter, 2, No. 1 (Jan.), 23-33. 

Self Condemned. London, Methuen. April. 

"Matthew Arnold," The Times Literary Supplement, Special Autumn 

Number, No. 2,740 (Aug. 6), p. xxii. [Review of Matthew Arnold: 

Poetry and Prose, ed. John Bryson.] 
"Meredith As a NoveHst," Time and Tide, 35, No. 39 (Sept. 25), 1269- 

70. [Review of Stevenson, The Ordeal of George Meredith.] 
The Demon of Progress in the Arts. London, Methuen. November. 


"Monstre Gai (i)," The Hudson Review, 7, No. 4 (Winter) [but appears 
January], 502-21. 

"Monstre Gai (ii)," The Hudson Review, 8, No. 1 (Spring), 28-56. 

Self Condemned. Chicago, Henry Regnery. March. 

The Lion and the Fox: the Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare. 
London, Methuen. June. [Reprints the 1927 edition. BNB entry adds, 
"This ed. first published 1951." Messrs. Methuen state that Grant 
Richards' existing stock of this book was taken over in May 1951, 
but that it was only reprinted by themselves in June 1955.] 

"A Very Sinister Old Lady," Shenandoah, 7, No. 1 (Autumn), 3-14. 

The Demon of Progress in the Arts. Chicago, Henry Regnery. October. 

The Apes of God. London, Arco Pub. October. [Limited edition of one 
thousand signed and numbered copies. Photographically reproduces 
the 1930 edition. Adds an Introduction.] 

The Human Age. Book 2: Monstre Gai. Book 3: Malign Fiesta. London, 
Methuen. November. [Reprints "Monstre Gai," i and ii, and "A Very 
Sinister Old Lady."] 

336 Bibliography 


"Pish-Tush," Encounter, 6, No. 2 (Feb.), 40-50. 

Introduction, Catalogue, Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, London, Tate 

Gallery. July. 
The Red Priest. London, Methuen. August. 
The Human Age. Book I: Childermass. London, Methuen. November. 

[Revises the 1928 edition.] 

Secondary Sources 

The following secondary sources list direct references to Wyndham 
Lewis and/or his work of especial interest. Ephemeral reviews, the more 
important of which have been mentioned in the text, are not recorded 
here; the Book Review Digest and Manly and Rickert's "bio-bibliography" 
list many of these. 

Aldington, Richard. "Blast," The Egoist, 1, No. 14 (July 15, 1914), 


Life for Life's Sake. New York, Viking Press, 1941. 

Allen, Walter. The English Novel. A Short Critical History. New York, 

E. P. Button. 1955. 
"Talking of Books" [broadcast talk, Studio 3B], London, B.B.C. 

Home Service, transmission, July 13, 1952. Typescript. 
Anderson, Margaret. My Thirty Years' War. London, Alfred A. Knopf, 

Armitage, Gilbert. "A Note on The Wild Body,' " Twentieth Century 

Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), 2 pages unpaged. 
Armstrong, Terence Ian Fytton. See under "Gawsworth, John." 
"The Art League of Service TravelUng Portfolios of Pictures," Artwork, 

7, No. 2 (Oct. 1924), 70-5. 
"Art Which Makes for Emotion," The Literary Digest (New York), 53, 

No. 22 (Nov. 25, 1916), 1406. 
Ayrton, Michael. Introduction, The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas 

Nashe. London, John Lehmann, 1948. 
"Tarr and Flying Feathers," Shenandoah, 7, No. 1 (Autumn 

1955), 31-43. 
Baker, Carlos. Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. Princeton University 

Press, 1952. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 337 

Barry, Iris. "The Ezra Pound Period," The Bookman, 74, No. 2 (Oct. 

1931), 159-71. 
Bates, Ernest Sutherland. "A Cathedral of Gargoyles," The Saturday 

Review oj Literature, 5, No. 11 (Oct. 6, 1928), 181-2. 
Beevers, John. "I Read Lewis," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./ 

Dec. 1937), 1 page unpaged. 
Bell, CYvjQ. "The English Group," Catalogue, Second Post-Impressionist 

Exhibition, London, Grafton Galleries, October 5 — December 31, 

"Wilcoxism," The Athenaeum, No. 4688, March 5, 1920, pp. 

Benezit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, 

dessinateurs, et graveurs. France, Librairie Griind, 1952. P. 559. 
Bergel, Lienhard. "L'estetica di Cesare Pavese," Lo spettatore italiano, 

anno viii, n. 10 (Ottobre 1955), 407-21. 
Booth, Meyrick. Youth and Sex. A Psychological Study. London, Allen 

andUnwin, 1932. 
Bowen, Stella. Drawn from Life. London, Collins, 1941. 
Brinton, Christian. Introduction, War Paintings and Drawings by British 

Artists, exhibited under the auspices of the Ministry of Information, 

London, pubhshed New York, Redfield-Kendrick-Odell, 1919. 
Brodzky, Horace. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 1891-1915. London, Faber 

and Faber, 1933. P. 166. 
Brunius, Av Teddy. Pionjdrer och Fullfoljare i Modern Engelsk Lyrik 

och Kritik. Stockholm, Natur och Kultur, 1952. 
Burke, Kenneth. Attitudes toward History, Vol. 1. New York, The New 

Republic, 1937. 
Campbell, Roy. Broken Record. Reminiscences. London, Boriswood, 

"Contemporary Poetry," Scrutinies by Various Writers, Vol. 1. 

London, Wishart, 1928. 
The Georgiad. A Satirical Fantasy in Verse. London, Boriswood, 


Light on a Dark Horse. Chicago, Henry Regnery, 1952. 

"A Note on W. L.," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/ Autumn 

1953), 74-6. 
[A printed book on Lewis by Roy Campbell was announced from Des- 

338 Bibliography 

mond Harmsworth some years ago, and has crept into checklists since, 

but in fact such did not appear.] 
Coburn, Alvin Langdon. More Men of Mark. London, Duckworth, 1932. 

[A little known photograph of Lewis is included as Plate xxii.] 
Coffman, Stanley K., Jr. Imagism. A Chapter for the History of Modern 

Poetry. Norman, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 1951. 
Connolly, Cyril. Enemies of Promise. Revised ed. New York, Macmillan, 

Constable, W. G. "Wyndham Lewis," The New Statesman, 15, No. 367 

(April 24), 1920, 73-4. 
Cournos, John. Autobiography. New York, Putnam's, 1935. 
Craig, Hardin. A History of English Literature. New York, Oxford, 1950. 
The Criterion: A Quarterly Review, Vols. 1-18, London, R. Cobden- 

Sanderson, 1922-39. 
Cubism and Abstract Art. New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1936. 
"O.R.D.," The Nation and Athenaeum, 29, No. 3 (April 16, 1921), 

Dekobra, Maurice. "The Art of Making Enemies," Daily Herald, No. 

5075 (May 21, 1932), p. 8. 
Dobree, Bonamy. Modern Prose Style. Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 

Duncan, Ronald. "BLAST and About and About," The Townsman, 1, 

No. 1 (Jan. 1938), 26-7. 
Earp, T. W. "The Leicester Galleries Exhibition," Twentieth Century 

Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), 3 pages unpaged. 
Ede, H. S. Savage Messiah. Gaudier-Brzeska. New York, The Literary 

Guild, 1931. 
The Egoist; an Individualist Review, Vols. 1-6, London, The Egoist Ltd., 

Eliot, T. S. After Strange Gods. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1934. 
[Review of James Joyce, Ulysses], The Dial, 65, No. 5 (Nov. 

1923), 482. 
"The Lion and the Fox," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 Nov./ 

Dec, 1937), 3Vi pages unpaged. 

"A Note on Monstre Gai," The Hudson Review, 7, No. 4 (Winter 

1955), 522-6. 

Selected Essays. New York, Harcourt, Brace. 1950. 

" Tarr,' " The Egoist, 5, No. 8 (Sept. 1918), 105-6. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 339 

T. S. Eliot. A Symposium, by various hands. London, Editions Poetry 
London, 1948. 

Epstein, Jacob. Let There Be Sculpure. New York, Putnam's, 1940. 

to Arnold L. Haskell. The Sculptor Speaks. A Series of Conver- 
sations on Art. New York, Doubleday, 1932. 

Ewart, Gavin. "Note," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov. /Dec, 1937), 
Vi page unpaged. 

Fehr, Bernhard. Das England von heute: Kulturprobleme, Denkformen, 
Schrifttum. Leipzig, Verlag von Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1932. 

Fiedler, Leslie. An End to Innocence. Boston, Beacon Press, 1955. 

"Five." "Wyndham Lewis's 'Enemy,' " Experiment (Cambridge, Eng- 
land), No. 3 (May, 1929), pp. 2-5. 

Fjelde, Rolf. "Time, Space, and Wyndham Lewis," Western Review, 15, 
No. 3 (Spring, 1951), 201-12. 

Flint, F. S. "The History of Imagism," The Egoist, 2, No. 5 (May 1, 
1915), 70-1. 

Ford, Ford Madox. (Hueffer) "A Haughty and Proud Generation," The 
Yale Review, N.S., 1 1 ,1^0. 4 (July 1922), 703-17. 

It Was the Nightingale. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1933. 

The March of Literature: from Confucius to Modern Times. 

London, Allen and Unwin, 1939. 

Mightier than the Sword. Memories and Criticisms. London, Al- 

len and Unwin, 1938. 

Return to Yesterday. New York, Horace Liveright, 1932. 

Thus to Revisit. Some Reminiscences. London, Chapman and 

Hall, 1921. [Published under "Hueffer."] 
Eraser, G. S. The Modern Writer and His World. London, Derek Ver- 

schoyle, 1953. 
Friedman, Melvin. Stream of Consciousness: A Study in Literary Method. 

New Haven, Yale University Press, 1955. 
Frierson, William C. The English Novel in Transition. Norman, Okla., 

University of Oklahoma Press, 1942. 
Frye, H. N. "Wyndham Lewis: Anti-Spenglerian," The Canadian Forum, 

16, No. 185 (June 1936), 21-2. 
Gallup, Donald. T. S. Eliot. A Bibliography. London, Faber and Faber, 

Gamett, David. The Flowers of the Forest. London, Chatto and Windus, 


340 Bibliography 

Gaudier-Brzeska. A Memoir, by Ezra Pound, Including the Published 
Writings of the Sculptor, and a Selection from His Letters. London, 
John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1916. 

Gaunt, W. "Contemporary Personahties by Wyndham Lewis," The Lon- 
don Studio (Nov. 1932), pp. 262-8. 

"Gawsworth, John." Apes, Japes, and Hitlerism. London, Unicorn Press, 

Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce's ''Ulysses." A Study. London, Faber and 
Faber, 1930. 

Goldring, Douglas. The Last Pre-Raphaelite. A Record of the Life and 
Writings of Ford Madox Ford. London, Macdonald, 1948. (PubUshed 
in 1949 as Trained for Genius, New York, E. P. Dutton.) 

Life Interests, with a Preface by Alec Waugh. London, Mac- 
donald, 1948, 

The Nineteen Twenties. A General Survey and Some Personal 

Memories. London, Nicholson and Watson, 1945. 

Odd Man Out. The Autobiography of a "Propaganda" Novelist. 

London, Chapman and Hall, 1935. 

People and Places. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1929. 

Reputations. Essays in Criticism. New York, Thomas Seltzer, 


South Lodge. Reminiscences of Violet Hunt, Ford Madox Ford 

and the English Review Circle. London, Constable, 1943. 
Gorman, Herbert. James Joyce. New York, Rinehart, 1948. [Unindexed 

Grigson, Geoffrey, ed. The Arts Today. London, John Lane, the Bodley 

Head, 1935. [Includes praise for Lewis from Louis MacNeice and 

Arthur Calder-Marshall, as well as Grigson.] 
"Living Writers. 5: Wyndham Lewis" [broadcast talk, Studio 

2B]. London, B.B.C. Third Programme, transmission, November 2, 

1946. Typescript. 
A Master of Our Time. London, Methuen, 1951. 

Handley-Read, Charles, ed. The Art of Wyndham Lewis, with an essay on 
detail in the artist's style, a chronological outUne and notes on the 
plates. With a critical evaluation by Eric Newton. London, Faber and 
Faber, 1951. 

Hannay, Howard. "Photography and Art," The London Mercury, 1, No. 
5 (Jan. 1920), 301-11. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 341 

"Tyros and Portraits by Wyndham Lewis," The London Mercury, 

4, No. 20 (June 1921), 204-5. 
Hausermann, H. W. "Left- Wing Poetry," English Studies: A Journal of 

English Letters and Philology, 21, No. 5 (Oct. 1939), 211-12. 
Studien zur englischen Literarkritik , 1910-1930, Kolner Anglis- 

tische Arbeiten, 34 Band, Bochum-Langendreer, Verlag Heinrich 

Poppinghaus, O.H.-G., 1938. 
Henderson, Philip. The Novel Today: Studies in Contemporary Attitudes. 

London, John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1936. 
Hennecke, Hans. "Wyndham Lewis: Vision und Satire," Europdische 

Revue, xiv Jahrgang, Heft 3 (Marz, 1938), 205-14. 
Herbert-Dell, Mollie. "An Introduction to the Work of P. Wyndham 

Lewis." Thesis in partial fulfillment for the requirements of Master 

of Arts, Leeds University, 1950. Typescript. 
Highet, Gilbert. A Clerk of Oxenford. New York, Oxford University 

Press, 1954. 
Hueffer, Ford Madox. See under Ford, Ford Madox. 
Hughes, Glenn. Imagism and the Imagists. A Study in Modern Poetry. 

Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1931. 
Hulme, T. E. "The Articles Contributed by T. E. Hulme to The New 

Age.' " Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the 

degree of Master of Arts, Faculty of Philosophy, Columbia University, 

by PhiHp J. Leddy Jnr., 1947. [Collects Hulme's prose outside Specu- 
Speculations. Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, 

ed. Herbert Read, with a frontispiece and foreword by Jacob Epstein. 

London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1936. 
Further Speculations by T. E. Hulme, ed. Sam Hynes. Minne- 

apolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1955. [Virtually the same com- 
pilation as that made by Leddy above.] 
Hunt, Violet. / Have This to Say. The Story of My Flurried Years. New 

York, Boni and Liveright, 1926. 
Hyman, Stanley Edgar. The Armed Vision. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 

Innis, Harold A. The Bias of Communication. Toronto, University of 

Toronto Press, 1951. 
Changing Concepts of Time. Toronto, University of Toronto 

Press, 1952. 

342 Bibliography 

Isaacs, Jakob. An Assessment of Twentieth Century Literature. London, 

Seeker and Warburg, 1951. 
"England," Contemporary Movements in European Literature, 

ed. J. Isaacs and William Rose. London, George Routledge, 1928. 

Pp. 6, 10, 15. 
Jepson, Edgar. Memories of an Edwardian and Neo-Georgian. London, 

Richards, 1937. 
John, Augustus. Chiaroscuro. Fragments of an Autobiography. First 

series. London, Jonathan Cape, 1952. 
Jones, Glyn. "Satiric Eye," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 

1937), 1 page unpaged. 
Keenan, Peter. "Memories of Vorticism," The New Hope, 2, No. 6 (Oct. 

1934), 5-6, 18-19. 
Kenner, Hugh. Dublin's Joyce. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 

The Poetry of Ezra Pound. Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 


Wyndham Lewis. Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1954. 

Kirk, Russell. "Wyndham Lewis's First Principles," The Yale Review, 

44, No. 4 (Summer 1955), 520-34. [Reprinted in Beyond the Dreams 

of Avarice, Chicago, Henry Regnery, 1956.] 
Krutch, Joseph Wood. "Plastic and Temporal in Art," The Nation, 105, 

No. 3257 (Dec. 7, 1927), Holiday Book Section, 643-4. 
Kunitz, Stanley J. ("Dilly Xante") and Haycraft, Howard, eds. Twentieth 

Century Authors. New York, H. W. Wilson, 1942. 
Lambert, Constant. "An Objective Self Portrait," Twentieth Century 

Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), 2^/^ pages unpaged. 
Laver, James. Portraits in Oil and Vinegar. London, John Castle, 1925. 
Lawrence, D. H. Phoenix. New York, Viking Press, 1936. 
Leavis, F. R. The Common Pursuit. New York, George W. Stewart, 


D. H. Lawrence: Novelist. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1956. 

Lee, Alwyn. "Henry Miller — The Pathology of Isolation," New World 

Writing, Second Mentor Selection, New York, New American Library, 

Signet Books Inc., 1952. 
Levin, Harry. James Joyce. Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1941. 
Linati, Carlo. Scrittori anglo americani d'oggi. Milano, Corticelli, 1932. 
The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography, by Frederick J. Hoff- 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 343 

man, Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. Princeton University Press, 

The Little Review; . . . Journal of Art and Letters. Vols. 1-12. Chi- 
cago, M. C. Anderson {q.v.), 1914-29. 

The Little Review Anthology, ed. Margaret Anderson. New York, Her- 
mitage House, 1953. 

Living Art. New York, The Dial Publishing Company, 1953. [Discussed 
by Lewis in The Criterion for October 1924.] 

McLuhan, Herbert Marshall. Counterblast. Toronto, Canada, privately 
printed, 1954. 

The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man. New York, 

Vanguard Press, 1951. 

"Wyndham Lewis: His Theory of Art and Communication," 

Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/Autumn 1953), 77-88. 

Mallalieu, H. B. "Social Force," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./ 
Dec. 1937), Vi page unpaged. 

Manly, John M., and Rickert, Edith, revised by Millett, Fred B. Con- 
temporary British Literature. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1935. 

Marcus, Steven. "The Highbrow Know-Nothings," Commentary , 15, 
No. 2 (Feb. 1953), 189-91. 

Marriott, Charles. Modern Movements in Painting. New York, Scrib- 
ner's, 1921. 

Melville, Cecil F. The Truth about the New Party. London, Wishart, 

Melville, Robert. "Portrait of the Artist, No. 7: Wyndham Lewis," Art 
News and Review, 7, No. 7 (May 7, 1949), 1, 3. 

Miskin, Leonard. "Aspects of Modern British Painting," Envoy, 4, No. 
16 (March 1951), 33-43. 

Monroe, Harriet. A Poet's Life. New York, Macmillan, 1938. 

Moore, Harry T. The Life and Works of D. H. Lawrence. New York, 
Twayne Publishers, 1951. 

Morgan, Louise. Writers at Work. London, Chatto and Windus, 1931. 

Mudrick, Marvin. "The Double-Artist and the Injured Party," Shenan- 
doah, 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/Autumn 1953), 54-64. 

Nash, Paul. "Modern Enghsh Textiles," Artwork, 2, No. 6 (Jan./March 
1926), 83. 

Outline. An Autobiography and Other Writings, with a Preface 

by Herbert Read. London, Faber and Faber, 1949. 

Nevinson, C. R. W. Paint and Prejudice. London, Methuen, 1937. 

344 Bibliography 

Newton, Eric. "Emergence of Mr. Wyndham Lewis," The Listener, 41, 
No. 1060 (May 19, 1949), 852. [See also under Handley-Read, 

O'Casey, Sean. Sunset and Evening Star. New York, Macmillan, 1954. 

Orage, A. R. Readers and Writers (1917-1921). New York, Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1922. 

Selected Essays and Critical Writings, eds. Herbert Read and 

Denis Saurat. London, Stanley Nott, 1935. 

Palmer, Herbert. "The Chaste Wand," New Britain, 2, No. 34 (Jan. 10, 
1934), 227. 

Pelham, Edgar. The Art of the Novel. New York, Macmillan, 1933. 

"PersonaUty of the Week. Britain's Most Advanced Painter Leads a Re- 
turn to NaturaUsm, But It Is a NEW Naturalism," The World of Art 
Illustrated, 1, No. 8 (June 7, 1939), 6-7. [Interview, with direct quo- 

Porteus, Hugh Gordon. "Eyes Front (Ideogram)," Twentieth Century 
Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), 514 pages unpaged. 

"Resurrection in the Crypt," T. S. Eliot. A Symposium. London, 

Editions Poetry London, 1948, pp. 218-24. 

"Wyndham Lewis," The Twentieth Century, 2, No. 7 (Sept. 

1931), 4-6. 

Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive Exposition. London, Desmond 

Harmsworth, 1932. 
"Portrait of the Artist. No. 7," Art News and Review, 1, No. 7 (May 7, 

1949), 1. 
Pound, Ezra. "Edward Wadsv/orth. Vorticist," The Egoist, 1, No. 16 

(Aug. 15, 1914), 306-7. 

Guide to Kulchur. Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, n.d. 

// This Be Treason. Siena, privately printed for Olga Rudge, 1948. 

Imaginary Letters. Paris, Black Sun Press, 1930. 

Instigations of Ezra Pound. New York, Boni and Liveright, 1920. 

The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941, ed. D. D. Paige. New 

York, Harcourt, Brace, 1950. 

Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, edited with an Introduction 

(^.v.) by T. S. Eliot. London, Faber and Faber, 1954. 

Make It New. London, Faber and Faber, 1934. 

Money Pamphlets. London, Peter Russell. These consist of No. 1, 

An Introduction to the Economic Nature of the United States, 1950; 
No. 2, Gold and Work, 1951; No. 3, What Is Money For? 1951; No. 4, 
A Visiting Card, 1952; No. 5, Social Credit: An Impact, 1951; No. 6, 
America, Roosevelt and the Causes of the Present War, 1951. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 345 

Pavannes and Divisions. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1918. 

The Pisan Cantos. Norfolk, Conn., New Directions, 1948-. 

"Vorticism," The Fortnightly Review, N.S., 573 (Sept. 1, 1914), 


"Wyndham Lewis," The Egoist, 1, No. 12 (June 15, 1914), 

Pound, Reginald. Arnold Bennett. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1953. 
Pritchett, V. S. Books in General. London, Chatto and Windus, 

' "Literary Letter from London," The New York Times Book 

Review (Sept. 28, 1952), p. 43. 
Pryce-Jones, Alan. "Little Reviews and Big Ideas," The Listener, 43, 

No. 1099 (Feb. 16, 1950), 285-6. 
Read, Sir Herbert. The Philosophy of Modern Art. London, Faber and 

Faber, 1952. 
Rhys, Keidrych. "Celtic View," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./ 

Dec. 1937), 2 pages unpaged. 
Richards, L A. "Talk," B.B.C. Third Programme, transmission, March 

10, 1952; originally recorded New York, Nov. 4, 1951. Typescript. 
Rickword, Edgell. "Wyndham Lewis," Scrutinies. Vol. 2, by various 

writers, collected by Edgell Rickword. London, Wishart, 1931. Pp. 

Roberts, Michael. T. E. Hulme. London, Faber and Faber, 1938. 
Roberts, William. The Resurrection of Vorticism and the Apotheosis of 

Wyndham Lewis at the Tate. London, Favil Press, 1956. 
Rodker, John. The Future of Futurism. London, Kegan Paul, Trench, 

Trubner, 1926. 
Rodman, Selden. The Eye of Man. New York, Devin-Adair, 1955. 
Rothenstein, John. British Artists and the War. London, Peter Davies, 

"Great British Masters — 26. Wyndham Lewis," Picture Post, 

2, No. 12 (March 25, 1939), 47-50. 
— Modern English Painters. Lewis to Moore. New York, Mac- 

millan, 1956. 
Rothenstein, Sir William. Men and Memories, Recollections of William 

Rothenstein, 1900-1922. London, Faber and Faber, 1932. 
Since Fifty. Men and Memories, 1922-1938. Recollections of 

William Rothenstein. London, Faber and Faber, 1939. 
Routh, H. V. English Literature and Ideas in the Twentieth Century. 

London, Methuen, 1946. 

346 Bibliography 

Russell, Peter. "Wyndham Lewis Today," Shenandoah, 4, Nos. 2-3 

(Summer/Autumn 1953), 72-3. 
Rutter, Frank. Art in My Time. London, Rich and Cowan, 1933. 
Evolution in Modern Art. A Study in Modern Painting. London, 

George S. Harrap, 1932. 

Modern Masterpieces. An Outline of Modern Art. London, 

George Newnes, 1940. 

Some Contemporary Artists. London, Leonard Parsons, 1922. 

Savage, D. S. "Lewis and Lawrence," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 

(Nov./Dec. 1937), 1 page unpaged. 
Scott, J. D. "On Re-Reading Wyndham Lewis" [broadcast talk, disc No. 

SLO 92562], London, B.B.C. Third Programme, transmission, July 

25, 1951. 
Scott-James, R. A. Fijty Years of English Literature, 1900-1950. Lon- 
don, Longmans Green, 1951. 
Shenandoah, Vol. 4, Nos. 2-3 (Summer /Autumn 1953). Wyndham 

Lewis Number. 
Sickert, Walter Richard. A Free House, or the Artist as Craftsman, Being 

the Writings of Walter Richard Sickert, ed. Osbert Sitwell (^.v.). Lon- 
don, Macmillan, 1947. 
Sitwell, Edith. Aspects of Modern Poetry. London, Duckworth, 1934. 

[Reviewed by Wyndham Lewis above.] 
Sitwell, Sir Osbert, Bt. Great Morning. London, Macmillan, 1948. 

Laughter in the Next Room. London, Macmillan, 1949. 

"A Short Character of Walter Richard Sickert," A Free House. 

. . . London, Macmillan, 1947. Pp. xlv-xlvi. 
The Sketch. "Look Here," The Sketch, 109, No. 1405 (Dec. 31, 

1919), 5. 
"Wyndham Lewis as a Tyro," The Sketch, 114, No. 1473 (April 

20, 1921), 89. 
Soby, James Thrall. Contemporary Painters. New York, Museum of 

Modern Art, 1948. 
Spender, Stephen. The Destructive Element. London, Cape, 1935. 

The Creative Element. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1953. 

"Spurious Art," by the Editor, The Connoisseur, 56, No. 223 (March 

1920), 138. 
Stone, Geoffrey. "The Ideas of Wyndham Lewis," The American Review, 

1, No. 5 (Oct. 1933), 578-99; "Part ii," The American Review, 2, 

No. 1 (Nov. 1933), 82-96. 

Checklist of Wyndham Lewis' Writings 347 

Stonier, George Walter. Gog Magog and Other Critical Essays. London, 
Dent, 1933. 

"That Taxi-Driver," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 

1937), 2V^ pages unpaged. 

Summers, Montague. The Gothic Quest. A History of the Gothic Novel. 
London, Fortune Press, 1938. 

Swinnerton, Frank Arthur. The Georgian Literary Scene. London, Wil- 
liam Heinemann, 1935. 

Background with Chorus. New York, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 


Symons, Julian. "Notes on One-Way Song," Twentieth Century Verse, 
6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), IVi pages unpaged. [It is more than likely that 
the one-page editorial to this issue was also written by this author.] 

Thieme-Becker. Thieme, Ulrich, and Becker, Felix, begriindet von, 
Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kilnstler, 23 (Leipzig, Verlag von 
E. A. Seeman, 1929), 164. [Contains a useful list of reproductions.] 

Time Magazine, 53, No. 22 (May 30, 1949), 60. [Contains an extended 
quotation from Lewis on his portraits of Eliot. Probably written origin- 
ally by Marvin Barrett.] 

Tindall, Wilham York. D. H. Lawrence and Susan His Cow. New York, 
Columbia University Press, 1939. 

Forces in Modern British Literature, 1885-1946. New York, 

Alfred A. Knopf, 1947. 

James Joyce. His Way of Interpreting the Modern World. New 

York, Scribner's, 1950. 
"Tis." "About Wyndham Lewis," Colour, 10 (March 1919), 24-7. 
Todd, Ruthven. "Check List of Books and Articles by Wyndham Lewis," 

Twentieth Century Verse, 9 (March 1938), 21-7. [A supplement of 

articles, announced as forthcoming in the note prefaced to this hst, did 

not appear.] 
"Comments on a Critic," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./ 

Dec. 1937), 2^/^ pages unpaged. 
Tomlin, E. W. F. "The Philosopher-PoUtician," Twentieth Century Verse, 

6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937), 3 pages unpaged. 

Wyndham Lewis. London, Longmans, Green, 1955. 

transition. Eugene Jolas, Elliot Paul, Robert Sage, "First Aid to the 

Enemy," transition 9 (Dec. 1927), 160-76. 
Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 (Nov./Dec. 1937). Wyndham Lewis 

Double Number. 

348 Bibliography 

Tschumi, Raymond. Thought in Twentieth-Century English Poetry. Lon- 
don, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951. 

Vines, Sherard. Foreword, Whips and Scorpions, Specimens of Modern 
Satiric Verse, 1914-1918, collected by Sherard Vines. London, Wis- 
hart, 1932. P. vii. 

Movements in Modern English Poetry and Prose. Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1927. 

100 Years of English Literature. London, Duckworth, 1950. 

Ward, A. C. The Nineteen-Twenties. Literature and Ideas in the Post- 
War Decade. London, Methuen, 1930. 
Warner, Rex. "Extract from a Letter," Twentieth Century Verse, 6/7 

(Nov. /Dec. 1937), Vi page unpaged. 
Waugh, Alec. See under Goldring, Douglas, Life Interests. 
WeUington, Hubert. (Deutsch von Margarete Mauthner.) "Die neueste 

Malerei in England, ii," Kunst and Kiinstler, Jahrgang 23, Heft 12 

(Sept. 1925), 464-6. 
Wickham, Harvey. The Impuritans. New York, Lincoln MacVeagh, The 

Dial Press, 1929. 
Wilenski, Reginald Howard. "Lettre de Londres," U Amour de Vart. 1" 

annee (mai-decembre 1920), 223. 
Masters of English Painting. Boston and New York, Hall, Cush- 

man, and Flint, 1934. 
Woolf, Leonard. "The World of Books," The Nation and Athenaeum, 40, 

No. 14 (Jan. 8, 1927), 539. 
Woolf, Virginia. Roger Fry, an Autobiography. London, Hogarth Press, 


A Writer's Diary. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1953. 

Yeats, W. B. ^ Vision. New York, Macmillan, 1938. 

The Letters of W. B. Yeats, ed. Allan Wade. New York, Mac- 

miUan, 1955. 


Aberdeen Journal, 239 

Action Frangaise, 8, 12 f., 50, 58, 83 n., 

95, 98, 192, 196, 302, 306 
Acton, Lord, 61 f. 
"Agathon." See Massis, Henri, and 

Tarde, Alfred de 
Age war, 48-51 
Aitken, George, 308 
Aldington, Richard, 3 n., 13 f., 16 f., 

142 f., 145, 147, 210; Life for Life's 

Sake, 15; Referee, 250 
Allen, Walter, 264, 308 f. 
American Bibliography (PMLA), xi 
Anaxagoras, 39 
Anderson, Margaret, 15 
Anderson, Sherwood, 46 f. 
Andrewes, Launcelot, 203 
Antiromanticism, 8 ff., 20, 51, 67 f., 78, 

95, 98, 110, 119, 131, 136, 189, 194, 

236, 306 
Antisemitism, 75 ff. 
Apollinaire, Guillaume, 131, 138; "Jolie 

Rousse," 139; Peintres cubistes: Medi- 
tations esthetiques, 138 
Aquinas, St. Thomas, 204. See also 

Arbuthnott, 145 
Architectural Review, 152 
Arendt, Hannah, Origins of Totalitar- 
ianism, 11 
Aristophanes, Birds, 293; Frogs, 293 
Aristotle, 178, 192 f. 
Arnold, Matthew, 91; Discourses in 

America, 36 
Arnold, Thomas, 264 
Art, 105 ff. See also Cubism; Futurism; 

Impressionism; Lewis, Percy Wynd- 

ham; Vorticism 
Art and Letters, 210 
Arthur Press, 23 and n., 83 n., 250 
Arts Gazette, 116 
Association des fitudiants de Paris, 

Athenaeum, 116 f., 120, 122, 127 

Atkinson, L., 145 

Attlee, Clement, 64, 258, 289 

Auden, W. H., Dance of Death, 71 

Austen, Jane, 58 

Authority, foundation of good society, 

Ayrton, Michael, x, 126 and n., 140, 


Babbitt, Irving, 40, 44, 80, 91, 93, 95, 
97 f., 113, 117, 185, 195; Democracy 
and Leadership, 9, 11, 61, 107 f.; 
Masters of Modern French Criticism, 
8; New Laokoon, 119; On Being 
Creative, 9, 273; Rousseau and Ro- 
manticism, 13, 136 

Bacchelli, Riccardo, Citta degli amanti, 
135; Diavolo al Pontelungo, 135 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 105, 157 

Bacon, Francis, 126 

Baerlein, Henry, 147 

Baker, Carlos, 164 

Baldini, Antonio, 135 

Baldwin, Stanley, 64, 81, 84 

Ball, Hugo, 128 

Balla, Giacomo, 129; "Speed of a Car 
Plus Light and Sounds," 132; "Leash 
in Motion," 132 

Balzac, Honore de, 240 

Barbusse, Henri, Enfer, 265 

Barnes, Djuna, 286 

Barrett, William, 304, 309 

Barry, Iris, 16, 281 

Bates, Ernest Sutherland, 307 

Baudelaire, Pierre Charles, 94 f., 110, 
118, 130, 183; Benediction, 107 

Bechstein Hall, 128 

Becker, Felix. See Thieme, Ulrich 

Beckett, Samuel, Waiting for Godot, 

Belgion, Montgomery, 3 n., 11, 250, 269 

Bell, Clive, 122, 151 

Bell, Vanessa, 254 

Benda, Julien, 18, 35, 49, 66, 6S, 76, 


Wyndham Lewis 

Benda, Julien {continued) 

79, 89, 94 f., 100, 111, 138 n, 157 n., 
158, 162 f., 166, 185 f.; Amorandes, 
52; Belphegor, 78, 109-10, 117, 197, 
227, 270; Bergsonisme ou line phi- 
losophie de la mobilite, 9 n., 186; 
Grande Epreiive des democraties, 62; 
Ordination, 52, 135; Philosophie pa- 
thetiqiie, 9; Reponse aiix defenseurs 
dii Bergsonisme, 9 n.; Sur le siicces 
dii Bergsonisme, 9, 133; Trahison des 
clercs, 13, 32 and n., 33, 42, 44, 48-9, 
71, 78, 94, 95 n., 97 and n. 

Benezit, E., 5 n. 

Benjamin, Rene, 12 

Bennett, Arnold, 14, 16, 252 

Beresford, J. D., 250 

Berg Collection, New York Public 
Library, 210 

Bergel, Lienhard, 242 

Bergonzi, Bernard, 36 

Bergson, Henri (Bergsonism), 8 f., 11, 
13, 76, 98 and n., 105, 111, 127, 
162 f., 166, 172 f., 175, 184 ff., 195, 
200 f., 215 f., 230, 270, 274, 281, 284, 
298 f., 301; "snapshot" method of 
art, 133; WL's treatment of, 185-8; 
formula for laughter, 223; Essai sur 
les donnees immediates de la con- 
science, 110, 186, 218; Evolution 
creatrice, 110, 133, 187, 222, 297; 
Introduction a la metaphysique, 100, 
186; Matiere et memoire, 164, 187, 
216, 223, 271; Rire, 38, 110, 186, 
216, 222-5, 227, 238, 297 

Bernheim, Jeune et Cie., Paris, 129 

Bernanos, Georges, 63 

Bithell, Jethro, 197 

Blackwood's, 210 

Blake, William, Proverbs of Hell, 145 

Blast, ix, 15, 18, 83 n., 130 f., 144, 157; 
dinners (Dieudonne, Eiffel Tower, 
restaurants), 144. See also Lewis, 
Percy Wyndham, works 

Blavatasky, Madame, 172 

Blum, Leon, 84 

Blunden, Edmund, 84 

Boccaccio, 195 

Boccioni, Umberto, 129; "Dynamism of 
a Football Player," 132; "Muscles in 
Quick Motion," 133; Pittura, scultura 
futuriste, 131 

Boileau-Despreaux, Nicolas, 311 

Bolshevism, 135 

Bomberg, David, 156 

Bone, Muirhead, 151 

Bookman, 191 n., 192, 194, 251 

Bourget, Paul, 9, 11 

Bourquin, Constant, 4 

Bowen, Stella, 16, 128; Drawn from 

Life, 17 
Braque, Georges, 121 
Brebner, J. B., 48 n. 
Bremond, Abbe, 23 n. 
British Council, 252, 290 
British Fascist party, 259 
British Union Quarterly, 19, 82. See 

also Fascist Quarterly 
Brodzky, Horace, 143, 280 
Bronowski, J., 100 
Brown University, 44 
Browne, Sir Thomas, 52-3 
Browning, Colleen, 151 
Browning, Robert, 20 
Brunius, Av Teddy, 150 
Buddha, 194 
Budgen, Frank, 219 n. 
Burke, Edmund, 11 
Burke, Kenneth, 308 
Burnham, James, 31 n. 
Burra, Edward, 126 
Busch, Wilhelm, 7 
Butler, Samuel, 27 
Byzantine art, 195 f. 

Calendar of Modern Letters, 74 

Cambridge Magazine, 116 

Camden Town Group, 141 

Camelots du roi, 11 

Campbell, Joseph, 183 

Campbell, Roy, 19, 48, 74, 83 f., 89, 
184, 203, 204 n., 230, 249; as proto- 
type for WL characters, 45 n.; Broken 
Record, 38, 65, 80, 88, 256; Flower- 
ing Rifle, 19, 45; Georgiad, 56; Light 
en a Dark Horse, 60, 66, 273 

Camus, Albert, 258 

Canadian Forum, 201 

CardareUi, Vincenzo, 135 

Carfax Gallery, London, 141 

Carlow, Lord, 108 n., 141, 152, 162, 

Carlow Collection, London, 6, 144, 
191 n., 239 n. 



Carlyle, Thomas, 91; Past and Present, 

Carra, Carlo, 129, 134 

Carter, Thomas H., 291 f., 303 

Caspar!, Walther, 7 

Cave of the Golden Calf, 142 f. 

Cecchi, Emilio, 135 

Cezanne, Paul, 108 n.. Ill, 115f., 122, 
134, 139, 156 

Chatto and Windus, 210, 220, 236 

Chirico, Giorgio de, "Classicismo pit- 
toresco," 135 

Christianity, leads to hatred, intolerance, 
and egotism, 68 

Cimabue, Giovanni, 195 

Classicism. See Neoclassicism 

Clouard, Henri, 113; Disciplines: Neces- 
sity litteraire et sociale d'une renais- 
sance classique, 10 

Clough, Rosa, 134; Looking Back at 
Futurism, 131 

Coffman, Stanley, 14, 211 

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 309 

Color war, 46-8 

Colquhoun, Robert, 126 

Commentary, 75, 309 

Communism, 69, 71 f., 260 f., 295, 306 

Comte, Auguste, 78, 93 

Conder, Charles, 151 

Confucius, 136, 149, 194 

Connolly, Cyril, 164, 291, 306, 309; 
Enemies of Promise, 192 

Conrad, Joseph, 14, 66, 210, 238 

Constable, W. G., 269 

Constant, Benjamin, 200 

Coquiot, Gustave, 131 

Coterie, 17 

Counterblast, 145 

Cournos, John, 16, 143 

Coward, Noel, 152 

Criterion, 13, 73 f., 89, 93, 97, 170, 
189 ff., 232, 254 

Croce, Benedetto, 135; Brevario di 
estetica, 11 

Cube Press, 17 

Cubism, 116, 121, 127, 131, 148, 288; 
anticubism of the Futurists, 134; 
WL's unfairness, 138; anti-Impres- 
sionistic, 139; overgeometric, 139 

Cummings, E. E., 128; Enormous 
Room, 269 

Cunninghame Graham, R. B., 14 

Dadaism, 118 and n., 135 

Dahlberg, Edward, Bottom Dogs, 

Daily News, 239 

Dante Ahghieri, 292 

Daudet, Leon, 99 

Davies, W. H., 16 

Davis, Robert Gorham, 14 

Defoe, Daniel, 285 

Delaunay, Robert, 138 

Dell, Ethel M., 273 

Democracy: a caricature of freedom, 
61; an awful visitation from God, 
68; Jews in back of, 79; British type 
an "egregious sham," 81; in Nazi 
Germany, 81 

Demorest, D.-L., 294 

Deniker, Georges, 140 

Dennis, Nigel, Cards of Identity, 56 

Derain, Andre, 121 

De Roos Gallery, Amsterdam, 130 

Descartes, Rene, Discours de la 
methode, 227; Passions de I'dme, 

Des Imagistes, 15 

Dial, 3 n., 77, 150, 240 

Dickens, Charles, 170, 296; Pickwick 
Papers, 170, 276 

Discipline, foundation of good society, 

Dismorr, J., 145 

Dobree, Bonamy, Modern Prose Style, 

DobHn, Alfred, 271 

Dore Gallery, London, 16, 130, 145 

Dos Passos, John, Grand Design, 62 

Dostoevsky, Feodor Mikhailovich, 239 
f.; Brothers Karamazov, 241; Notes 
from the Underground, 242; Pos- 
sessed, 241 f. 

Douglas, Norman, 14 

Dreyfus affair, 79 n. 

Drogheda, Countess of, 141 

Dryden, John, 254; Essay on Satire, 308 

Duchamp, Marcel, "Nude Descending 
a Staircase," 132 

Dunne, J. W., 221 

Durrell, Lawrence, Key to Modern Brit- 
ish Poetry, 286 

Dynamism, 94 n. 

tcole de Paris, 121 f., 150 
tcole romane, 8 


Wyndham Lewis 

Ede, H. S., Savage Messiah, 280 

Education, of masses, danger of, 61 

Egoist, ix, 14 ff., 143, 147, 236, 239 

Egoist Ltd., 15, 116, 147, 168, 218, 240 

Egyptian art, 196 

Einfiihlung, 195 

Einstein, Albert, 76, 105, 172 f., 271, 286 

Eliot, George, Middlemarch, 265 

Eliot, T. S., X, 4n., 12 ff., 35, 42, 60, 
62, 85, 87, 91, 95, 97 f., 108, 117, 
124, 146, 161, 176 f., 181, 183 f., 
190, 220, 239 f., 242, 264, 285 and 
n., 309, 311; his description of WL, 
ix; evasive prose of, 36; states his 
politics, 70; attacked by WL, 191; 
the objective correlative, 205; After 
Strange Gods, 13, 77 f., 191; "Burnt 
Norton," 191; Cocktail Party, 53; 
"Commentary" in Criterion, 74; For 
Launcelot Andrewes, 93; Gerontion, 
76; "Literature of Fascism," 89; 
Literature of Politics, 13; Notes to- 
wards the Definition of Culture, 89, 
96; Rock, 73; Sacred Wood, 211; 
Sweeney Agonistes, 53; Waste Land, 
170, 286 

Elite, rule of intellectual, 91 ff. 

Ellmann, Richard, 20 

Empson, William, 100 

Enciclopedia italiana, 74 

Encounter, 266 

Enemy, 22 f. 

English Review, 11, 14 f., 105, 153, 
209 f. 

Epstein, Jacob, 17, 128, 142 f., 156 f., 
280-1; "Rock Drill," 133, 145 

Ernst, Paul, 10, 197, 199 and n.; 
Brunhild, 198 f.; Demetrios, 198; 
Weg zur Form, 198 and n.; Zusam- 
menbruch des deutschen Idealismus, 

Etchells, Frederick, 141, 143, 147, 155 

Eton, 67 

Experiment, 99-100 

Expressionism, 277 

External approach to literature and art, 
269 ff., lauded by Grigson, 285; 
scorned by Spender, 285-6 

Faguet, £mile, 58 

False Bottoms, 258. See also Lewis, 

Percy Wyndham, works, Revenge 

for Love 

Fascism, 49, 69 ff., 74, 80 f., 86, 136, 
158, 306; "pure" democracy in Nazi 
Germany, 81; in England, 82 

Fascist Quarterly, 81 f., 89 

Faulkner, William, 164, 203, 287; 
Fable, 204 n., 275-6; Light in Au- 
gust, 204 n.; Mirrors of Charles 
Street, 203-4 n.; Sound and the Fury, 

Fernandez, Ramon, 12, 110, 185, 189, 
192, 204 f., 270; Messages, 3 n., 

Fielding, Henry, 213, 251, 285, 288 

Figaro, 8, 127 

Firbank, Ronald, 74 

Flaubert, Gustave, 130, 213, 240, 293, 
308; Bouvard et Pecuchet, 293-4 

Flecker, James Elroy, 16 

Fleming, Peter, 82 

Fliegende Blatter, 1 

Flint, F. S., 13 ff., 161 

Fontenelle, Bernard, 227 

Ford, Ford Madox, 14, 16 ff., 116, 141, 
146, 209 f.; Marsden Case, 142; Thus 
to Revisit, 130 

Forster, E. M., 238; Aspects of the 
Novel, 285 and n.; Howard's End, 

Fortnightly Review, 17, 142, 149 

Forum, 97 

Franco, Francisco, 84, 197 

Frank, Joseph, 285 f. 

Eraser, G. S., 308 

Frederick II of Prussia, 228 

Frederick the Great, 62 

Freedom: not wanted by the many, 36; 
of the press, 61, 84; difference be- 
tween liberty and, 64 n.; true freedom 
the privilege of the few, 68 

Freewoman, 16 

Frierson, William, 220 n. 

Fry, Roger, 17, 120, 134, 150, 155, 254; 
Omega Workshops, 120, 141 

Frye, H. N., 201 n. 

Fuchs, Georg, Der Kaiser, die Kultur 
und die Kunst, 7; Deutsche Form, 7 

Fuller, Henry B., 240 

Furioso, 305 

Futurism, 49, 74, 127, 147-8, 258; first 
manifesto, in Figaro, 127-8; second 
manifesto, 129; Vital English Art, 
130; periodicals, 131; reasons for 



WL's dislike of, 131 f.; shows, 132-3; 
scored by WL as mechanical, 134; 
anticubism of, 134; Vorticism called 
healthier than, 149. See also Mari- 
netti, F. T. 

Gable, Clark, 257 

Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels, 130 

Galsworthy, John, 14 

Gardiner, Rolf, 88 

Gamett, Constance, 241 

Garnett, David, 152 n., 210 

Gassendi, Pierre, 227 

Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri, 77, 130, 143, 

145 f., 148 f., 204 n., 280 f. 
Gauguin, Paul, 118-19 
Gawthorpe, Mary, 16 
Gazette de France, 8 
George, Stefan, 107, 118, 197; Jahrbuch 

der geistegen Bewegiing, 197 
Gide, Andre, 162; Caves du Vatican, 

293; Faux-Monnayeurs, lAl 
Gilbert, Stuart, 176, 192 
Gilman, Harold, 151 
Giotto di Bondone, 195 
Girard, Henri, 12 
Gissing, George, 301 n. 
Gleizes, Albert, and Jean Metzinger, 

Du "Cubisme," 138 f. 
Goebbels, Joseph, 82, 88, 243 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 200; 

Faust, 59, 188 
Goldring, Douglas, 14, 16, 129; Odd 

Man Out, 210; South Lodge, 146 f., 

Gorman, Herbert, James Joyce, 177 
Goupil Gallery, London, 120, 124 
Grafton Galleries, London, 17 
Grant, Duncan, 152 n. 
Gratz, 7 
Great English Vortex, 145. See also 

Greenaway, Kate, 261 
Greenberg, Clement, 140 
Gregory, Horace, 309 
Grierson, Sir Herbert, 13, 193, 195; 

"Classical and Romantic," 93 
Grigson, Geoffrey, 37 f., 184, 242; opin- 
ion of WL, ix; Master of Our Time, 

Gris, Juan, 121 
"Group-rhythms," 44 ff. 

Guerard, Albert, 12 
Guttinger, Ulric, Arthur, 23 n. 

"H.D.," 14, 16 

Halper, Nathan, 170, 182 

Hamilton, Alexander, 63 and n. 

Hamilton, Cuthbert, 141, 143, 145 

Hamsun, Knut, 237 

Handley-Read, Charles, 17, 116, 279; 
Art of Wyndham Lewis, 5 n., 6 n. 

Hardy, Thomas, "Sunday Morning 
Tragedy," 14 

Hartley, L. P., 250, 264, 269, 305 

Harvey, William, 228 

Hausermann, H. W., 18 

Haskins, 195 

Haycraft, Howard. See Kunitz, Stan- 
ley J. 

Hazlitt, William, English Comic Writ- 
ers, 222; "On Shakespeare and Ben 
Jonson," 231 

Hearst Press, 84 

Heimann Academy, Munich, 6 

Heine, Thomas Theodor, 7 

Heinsius, Daniel, 308 

Hemingway, Ernest, 135, 164, 192, 276 

Henderson, Philip, 306 f. 

Henriot, Emile, Renaissance politique 
et litteraire, 12 

Heron, Patrick, 106, 116 

Hesse, Hermann, Blick ins Chaos, 161 

Highet, Gilbert, 149 

Hitler, Adolf (Hitlerism), 39, 50, 64, 
74 f., 80 f., 85 f., 86 n., 88, 96, 99, 
118, 197, 199, 238, 243, 258; Mein 
Kampf, 74 

Holderlin, Friedrich, 200 

Hoffmann, E. T. A., 242 

Hopkins, Gerard Manley, 173 

Howe, Irving, 309 

Hudson, W. H., 14 

Hudson Review, ix, 309 

Hughes, Glenn, 144 n. 

Hugo, Victor, 11, 94 f., 200; Hernani, 

Hulme, T. E., 8, 10 f., 13, 17, 35, 105, 
125 f., 130, 133, 144, 146, 152, 193, 
195, 200, 260, 284; his humanism, 
98; adapted Worringer's classification 
of aesthetic man, 153-5; Abstraktion 
and Einfiihlung, 155, 157; concep- 
tions of the nature of man, 195; art 


Wyndham Lewis 

Hulme, T. E. (continued) 

and ancient cultures, 195-6; Specu- 
lations, 153, 196 
Humanism, 107, 195 f., 205; of Babbitt, 

97; and humanitarianism, 97-8 
Humanitarianism, and humanism, 97-8 
Hunt, Violet, 14, 142 f., 147 f., 281 
Huxley, Aldous, 17; Antic Hay, 152; 

Point Counter Point, 112 
Hyman, Stanley Edgar, 283 

I Rondisti, 135 f. 

Imagism, 14-15, 142, 145, 277 

Impressionism, 115, 126 f., 132, 139, 

149, 155 
Individualism, and politics, 32-3 
Inequality, a necessity for mankind, 92 
Influences, three main, on WL, 5 ff. 
Innis, Harold A., 48 n. 
Interior monologue, 271 ff., 283, 287 
Isaac, Jules, Genesis of Antisemitism, 

Isherwood, Christopher, Prater Violet, 


James, Henry, 14, 270 ff., 274 n. 

Janicot, Gustave, 8 

Jarrett-Kerr, Martin, 231 

Jarry, Alfred, Uhu Roi, 220 n. 

Jean-Aubry, Gerard, 210 

Jepson, Edgar, 142 

Jews, 75-81 

Joel, Karl, 51, 58, 197, 200, 211; 
Bedeutung unseres klassischen Zeital- 
ters fiir die Gegenwart, 10; Wand- 
lungen der Weltanschauung, 200 

John, Augustus, 34-5, 45 n., 124, 142, 
250, 253 

Jolas, Eugene, 22, 167 

Jones, Bobby, 132 

Jones, P. Mansell, 8 

Jones, William Powell, James Joyce and 
the Common Reader, 182 

Jonson, Ben, 212, 222, 226 

Josephson, Chfford, 193 n. 

Joyce, James, x, 12, 15 f., 41, 54, 76, 
87, 122, 163 f., 181, 189, 219 n., 235, 
243, 269 ff., 273, 280, 285 and n., 
286, 295, 301, 307, 311; attacked by 
WL, 163, 166 f., 171-83; first meeting 
with WL, 168; quarrels with WL, 
168-9; criticism of WL in Finnegans 
Wake, Portrait of the Artist, and 

Ulysses, 170 ff., 179-84; Finnegans 
Wake, 5-6 n., 168 f., 172 ff., 176 f., 
180 If., 189, 276, 288; Portrait of the 
Artist, 170 f., 176 ff., 240; Stephen 
Hero, 171, 179 f.; Ulysses, 168, 
170 ff., 174 ff., 181 f., 190, 192, 
219 n., 251, 272, 276, 283, 285 and 
n., 286 f., 296 

Joyce, William, 88 

Juifs, 78 n. 

Kain, Richard, 192 

Kandinsky, Vasily, 121, 125, 126 n., 156 

Kant, Immanuel, 225 

Kauffer, E. McKnight, 120 f., 152 

Keenan, Peter, 144 n., 145 

Kenner, Hugh, 15 and n., 21, 41, 101, 
149 f., 174, 182, 192, 210, 219 n., 
229, 232 f., 242, 251 ff., 264, 266, 
305, 309; Dublin's Joyce, 169 

Kenyon Review, 291 

Keyserling, Herman Alexander, Count, 
185, 193-4 

Kipling, Rudyard, 272 

Kirk, Russell, 309 

Klages, Ludwig, 118 

Klanggedichten, 128 

Kleist, Paul von, 199 

Koestler, Arthur, 87; Invisible Writing, 

Kramer, Jacob, 145 

Krutch, Joseph Wood, 305 

Kunitz, Stanely J., and Howard Hay- 
craft, Twentieth Century Authors, 

Labour party, 65 n. 

Lacerba, 131, 134 f. 

Lacretelle, Jacques de, 49 

La Hune Catalogue, Paris, 219 n. 

Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1 1 

Le Mettrie, Julien Offray de, 294; 
L'Homme-Machine, 228 

Lanson, Gustave, 95 

Larbaud, Valery, 271 

Lasserre, Pierre, 9, 12, 33, 76, 93, 98, 
11 1-12 n., 120, 165, 188; catalogue 
of romantic traits, 201; Charles 
Maurras et la renaissance classique, 
8; Mise au point, 193; Des Romanti- 
ques a nous, 95; Romantisme fran- 
gais, 8, 52, 111, 200 

"Laughter,": as satire, 214 ff.; dichot- 



omy of mind and body essential to, 
215-16; representative of tragedy, 

Lawrence, D. H., x, 14, 39, 46 f., 67, 
83, 88, 94, 117f., 164, 172, 270 f., 
273, 283, 310; Lady Chatterley's 
Lover, 152, 253 

Lawrence, T. E., 100 

League of Nations, 81, 83 n. 

Leander, Folke, 93 

Leavis, F. R., 310; Common Pursuit, 

Leavis, Q. D., Fiction and the Reading 
Public, 252 

Lechmere, Kate, 141, 146 

Le Fauconnier, Henri, 140 

Leger, Ferand, 138 

Lehmann, John, Whispering Gallery, 87 

Lemaitre, Jules, 79; Contemporains, 80 

Lenin, Nikolai, 71, 80 

Leopardi, Giacomo, Zibaldone, 136 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Laokoon, 

Levin, Harry, 169, 192 

Levy-Bruhl, Lucien, Mentalite primi- 
tive, 173 

Lewis, Captain Charles, 6 

Lewis, Dominic Bevan Wyndham, xi 

Lewis, Percy Wyndham (WL): no 
longer neglected, x; relation of criti- 
cal and creative writings, 3, 304-5; 
many-sided artist, 4-5; pamphlets, 4; 
political books, 4 and n.; three main 
influences (Munich, Paris, London), 
5 ff.; date of birth, 5 n.; on the Con- 
tinent, 6ff,; in Paris, 7-13; in Lon- 
don, early days, 14 ff.; first exhibi- 
tion, 17; runs Cube Press, 17; in the 
Royal Artillery, 17; drawings for 
Timon of Athens, 17; present resi- 
dence, 18; his criticism completely 
representative of contemporary neo- 
classicism, 18; claim to impartiality, 
18-20; use of th3 mask, 20 ff., 279; 
his alter egos, 22-7; his politics, 
31 ff.; emphasis en power of the state, 
31-2; relation of politics and mo- 
rality, 32; politics inimical to the 
functioning of the true individual, 32; 
distinction between "person" and 
"thing," 34, 38-9; use of lower case 
for names of nationalities, 34 n.; man 

of the mass wants no freedom, 35-6; 
inteUigence to be found mostly in 
upper classes, 37; criticism of the 
working classes, 37-8; the more ani- 
mal, the more mechanical, 38-9; the 
"person" is the true individual, 39- 
40; the Hegelian Not-Self, 41; the 
Split-Man, 41; continuity of culture, 
42; God the only absolute, 43; con- 
cern for three "group-rhythms" 
(color war, age war, sex war), 46 ff., 
77; opinion of the Negro, 46-8; strife 
between emotional youth and intelli- 
gent old age, 48-51, 58; sex and 
woman as the enemy of culture, 
51-9; women characters, 55; time and 
sex associated, 56; sexual perversion, 
56-8; definition of "shaman," 57; 
definitions of liberalism, 60; his view 
that democracy and autocracy are 
close, 61; democratic freedom merely 
a technicality, 61; criticizes American 
politicians, 62 f.; attacks Parliament, 
63; criticizes "orthodoxy of the left," 
64; attitude toward socialism, 65 ff.; 
attacked by Orwell, "bites back," 67; 
the evangelical heresy, 67; his al- 
ternative to democracy, 69; admires 
Communism and Fascism, 69, 72; 
scorns Marx, 70, and Marxism, 71; 
inconsistent attitudes, 71-2; cham- 
pions dictatorship, 72; sanctions Fas- 
cism, 73; supports Mussolini, then 
repudiates him, 74; admires Hitler, 
75-6; attitude toward Jews, 75-81; 
Left Wings over Europe an apology 
for Hitler, 81-2; views on national- 
ism, 82-3 n.; 7957 the peak of his 
interest in Fascism, 84; volte-face, 
85 ff.; idea of common good a fallacy, 
90; rule by intellectual elite, 91 ff.; 
inequality a necessity, 92; ideal so- 
ciety, 92; supremacy of art, 98; draw- 
ing, "Surrender of Barcelona," 101. 

Art — function and definitions, 105; 
painting the highest art, 105; "Vor- 
tices and Notes," 106; "Essay on the 
Objective of Plastic Art in Our 
Time," 105; reality resides in artist's 
intellect, 106; intellect not subordi- 
nate to ethics, 108; realm of art the 
"preserve" of the intellect, 108; the 


Wyndham Lewis 

Lewis, Percy Wyndham {continued) 
dithyrambic spectator, 109, 165, 239, 
255; abstract art, 110; art a kind of 
death, 111-13; Vortex, the principle 
of unity in the maelstrom of life's 
diversity, 113; dislike of Cubism, 
116; dislike of French novelty in art, 
117; attack on Lawrence, 117; aprio- 
rism a disease of art and life, 118; 
first one-man exhibition, with fore- 
word Guns, 120; "X" Group, 120, 
152; his opinion of modern painters, 
121 ff.; "contradictions" in his art 
criticism, 123^; three styles of his 
art, 124-5; "Inca and the Birds," 
124; "Tyros and Portraits," 125; 
sources of abstraction in his art, 126; 
definition of "classical" art, 126 n.; 
"A Review of Contemporary Art," 
127; heckles Marinetti, 130; reasons 
for dishke of Futurism, 131 ff.; scores 
Futurism as mechanical, 134; on 
present-day painting, 136-7; weak- 
ness of his art criticism, 138-40; as- 
sociated with Fry, 141; Rebel Art 
Centre, 141-3, 156; Blast dinners, 
144; Blast publications, 145; its con- 
tributors, 145-6; classical restraint 
and order, 146; assessment of worth 
of Vorticism, 150-2; Hulme's analy- 
sis of art applied to Lewis, 153-8; 
drawing, "Enemy of the Stars," 156; 
"Credentials of the Painter," 158. 

Attack on "Time" (romanticism), 
161 ff.; criticism of Gertrude Stein, 
165-7, 168 ff.; first meeting with 
Joyce, 168; launches attack on him, 
168-70; continues it, 171-83; Joyce's 
criticism of WL, 170 ff., 179-84; WL 
attacks Joyce as a writer of "time" 
books, 184; WL's treatment of Berg- 
sonism, 185-8; attacks Pound, 190, 
and EHot, 191; for WL classicism is 
antiromanticism, 194; epitome of his 
"time-philosophy," 201; as Thomist, 
202 ff.; antagonism to rehgion, 202; 
art the supreme expression of God, 
203; attacks Protestantism, 203; can- 
not subscribe to Catholicism, 204-6, 

Reads first story to Ford, 209; 
threatens to horsewhip editor, 209; 
Khan and Company, 210; Soldier of 

Humour, 210; Hkes satire, detests hu- 
mor, 211; humor an EngHsh fail- 
ing, 212; function of satire the de- 
piction of reahty, 212; violence of 
his satire, 213 ff.; "War Baby," 214; 
"Cornac and His Wife," 215; separa- 
tion of mind and body essential to 
satire, 216; theory essentially Berg- 
sonian, 216; role of the "showman," 
217-20; early stories, 221-2, 226; 
similarities with Bergson's Rire, 
Til ff., and differences, 223; the man- 
machine, 227-30; WL's comic type, 
230 ff.; Hardcaster and Kreisler, 
232-9; comparison with Dostoevsky, 
239 ff.; his view of tragedy, 245 ff.; 
subject of the Apes, 247-8; Apes 
more satiric than tragic, 248; Apes a 
roman a clef, 249; "Roaring Queen," 
252-3 {see also below, works); 
breadth of vision in Apes, ISA; satire 
in Snooty Baronet, 255-7; tragedy in 
Snooty, 256-7; Vulgar Streak a cri- 
tique of "action," 258; tragedy in 
form of satire in Revenge for Love, 
258-63; sham the human norm, 259- 
60; "playing the game," 261-2; Self 
Condemned a weak novel, 264; plot 
of Red Priest, 161 -S; his technique 
of writing of the outside, "philosophy 
of the eye," 269 ff.; parodies Stein, 
273-5; parodies Joyce, 276; repul- 
sive mouths of characters, 278; pup- 
pets, dummies, and clowns, 279; 
clear, clean eyes, 279-80; painting, 
"Mud Clinic," 279; use of "hieratic," 
280-1; clockwork characters, 281-2; 
fails to master new problems en- 
gendered by space-time continuum, 
286; favorite words in Childermass, 
288-9; plot of, 292-304; concerned 
with "time-philosophy," 299; opinions 
of Childermass, 305-9; evaluation, 

WORKS. America and Cosmic Man, 
47, 71, 116, 307; America, I Presume, 
26, 85, 137, 262; Anglosaxony: A 
League That Works, 44, 86; Apes of 
God, 25, 31, 41, 45 and n., 47, 50, 
56, 73, 76, 101, 105, 109, 170, 212 f., 
218, 230 ff., 238, 243, 246-54, 255, 
258, 263, 266, 269, 274 ff., 278 ff., 



282, 288, 307; Art of Being Ruled, 
4n., 33f., 43n., 51, 57,60, 65, 70ff., 
92, 151, 163, 168, 170, 247 f., 266, 
269, 283; Blast No. 1, 10, 36, 77, 103, 
106, 115, 130, 131-2, 134, 141, 
144 ff., 156, 211, 219 n., 245, 268; 
Blast No. 2, 18, 42, 83 n., 92, 106, 
121, 127, 145 f., 148, 211, 236, 279, 
289; Blasting and Bombardiering, 23, 
75, 126, 168, 211, 280; Caliph's De- 
sign, 15, 116ff., 120 ff., 132, 134, 136, 
156, 168, 219 n., 230 f.; Cantleman's 
Spring-Mate, 182; Childermass, xi, 
42, 47, 54, 58, 73, 86, 92, 105, 112, 
166, 168 ff., 172, 175, 179, 188, 213, 
220, 248, 255, 262, 274 ff., 278, 288, 
290 ff.; "Code of a Herdsman," 21, 

53, 72; Count Your Dead, 4, 34, 84, 
88, 259; Demon of Progress in the 
Arts, 136-7, 304; Diabolical Principle 
and the Dithyrambic Spectator, 22, 
105, 109, 151, 191 n., 192, 248; Doom 
of Youth, 48-9 n., 49, 51 n., 55, 71, 
77, 232, 307; Enemy No. 2, 248; 
Enemy No. 3, 168; Enemy of the 
Stars, 22, 40, 55, 61, 63, 101, 142, 
181, 218, 219 n., 233; English, Are 
They Human? 76; Filibusters in Bar- 
bary, 39, 55; Hitler, 50 f., 71, 75, 
80 f., 83 n., 88, 258; Hitler Cult, 80, 
85 f., 258; Human Age, x, xi, 37, 50, 

54, 169, 290 f., 304; Ideal Giant, 25, 

55, 70, 247, 282; Jews, Are They 
Human? 29, 46, 76, 85; Left Wings 
over Europe, 4, 81, 85, 88, 259; Lion 
and the Fox, 4n., 20, 37, 57 n., 
15711.; Malign Fiesta, 166, 290 ff., 
295 f., 298, 303 f.; Men without Art, 
13, 25, 37, 50, 164, 176, 190 ff., 194 f., 
213, 272; Monstre Gai, 86, 290 f., 
295 f., 298, 302, 304; Mysterious Mr. 
Bull, 37, 63, 211, 220; Old Gang and 
the New Gang, 48-9 n.; One-Way 
Song, 22 ff., 41, 43, 65, 81, 91, 108, 
151, 159, 166, 177, 243, 262, 269, 
277, 289, 298; Paleface, 34, 46 f., 
58, 60, 71, 77, 117 f., 188, 204, 221; 
"Pole," 209; Red Priest, 26, 54, 62, 
68, 76, 152, 262, 264, 267-8, 275, 
279, 307; Revenge for Love, 25, 
54 f., 65, 67, 71, 76, 84, 116, 123, 
213, 218, 229 f., 232, 238, 242, 255, 

257, 258-63, 273, 277 f., 280, 282; 
"Roaring Queen," 181, 252-3, 276 n., 

277, 296; Rotting Hill, 25, 37, 45 n., 
53, 63, 65, 68, 85, 119, 126, 204 and 
n., 219, 229, 258, 267, 279, 289, 305, 
307; Rude Assignment, 3, 4 n., 31, 44, 
45-6, 50, 59, 71, 90, 115, 124, 217, 
220, 226, 236 f., 246, 262, 290, 305; 
Satire and Fiction, 165, 213, 245, 
250, 254, 269, 271 f.; Self Con- 
demned, X, 26, 61, 76, 86, 92, 112, 
206, 218, 221, 229, 264-7, 274, 276, 
279 f., 282, 305; "Sigismund," 55; 
Snooty Baronet, 27, 54 f., 219, 229, 
234, 251, 253 f., 255-7, 259, 273, 

278, 280; "Soldier of Humour," 277; 
Tarr, 6, 8, 15, 25 f., 39, 51, 53, 77, 
90, 109, lllff., 118, 147, 158, 164, 
168, 188, 210, 212 f., 218, 219 n., 
230, 234-44, 245 f., 248, 251, 254, 
263, 265, 277, 283, 288; Time and 
Western Man, 10, 33-4, 40, 51, 64, 
73, 105, 113, 145, 161 ff., 168, 170, 
172, 176, 182, 185 ff., 194, 202, 204, 
220 n., 248, 270, 283, 286; Trial of 
Man, 290, 299; Tyro No. 1, 150, 209, 
221; Tyro No. 2, 106 f.; Vulgar 
Streak, 37, 55, 85, 220, 238, 251, 254, 
257-8, 273, 278, 281; "War Baby," 
278; V/ild Body, 53, 207, 210 f., 
214 ff., 220, 222, 224, 226, 229, 245 f., 
277, 288 f., 306; Writer and the Ab- 
solute, 43, 67, 258, 305; Wyndham 
Lewis the Artist, 234-5 

Lhote, Andre, 115, 122, 127; Parlons 
peinture, 119; Peinture: Le Coeur et 
V esprit, 117, 119 

Liberalism, 60 ff., 82; criticized by Bab- 
bitt, 61-2, by Eliot, 62, by Benda, 62 

Library of Congress, 5 n. 

Linati, Carlo, 135; Scrittori anglo 
americani d'oggi, 243 

Lincoln, Abraham, 63 n. 

Lipps, Theodor, 7, 153 

Listener, 119, 126, 140, 148 

Little Review, 15, 21, 210 

Litvinov, Maxim, 84 

Living Art, 5 n. 

Lockwood Memorial Library, Univer- 
sity of Buffalo, 77 

London Conservative Political Centre, 


Wyndham Lewis 

London Mercury, 214, 282 

Lowell, Amy, 15, 144 

Lubbock, Percy, Craft of Fiction, 285 n. 

Lublinski, Samuel, 11, 197; Ausgang der 
Moderne: Ein Buck der Opposition, 
199; Entstehung des Judentums: Eine 
Skizze, 198; Giinther und Brunhild, 
199; Tsar Peter, 198 

Lukacs, Georg, 199-200 n.; Seele und 
die Formen, 199 

Luther, Martin, 230 

Lyceum Club, 128 

McBryde, Robert, 126 

McCarthy, Mary, 87 

MacColl, D. S., 151 

MacDiarmid, Hugh, To Circumjack 
Cencrastus, 24 

Machiavelli, Niccolo, 32, 35; Principe, 
31 and n. 

McLuhan, H. M., 145, 184, 216, 265; 
Mechanical Bride, 48 n. 

Magalaner, Marvin, 192 

Magny, Claude-Edmonde, 176 

Mahu-Yuga, 291 

Maistre, Joseph de, 68, 78 

Malebranche, Father Nicolas, 227 

Malraux, Andre, 137, 258 

Manchester Guardian, 239 

Manifesto dei pittori futuristi, 129 

"Manifesto del Futurismo," 127 

Manly, John M., and Edith Rickert, 
Contemporary British Literature, 5 n. 

Mann, Thomas, 242; Tristan, 1 

Manzoni, Alessandro, 136 

Marcus, Steven, 309 

Marinetti, F. T., 16, 74, 83, 106, 127 f., 
136, 149; lectures of, 128 ff.; heckled 
by WL, 130; WL's charge of "Auto- 
mobilism," 134; Cinematografia 
futurista, 129; Futurisme, 129, 131; 
Zang Tumb Tuuum, 128 

Marinettian poetry, 128-9 

Maritain, Jacques, 10, 13, 39, 68, 78, 
96, 96-7 n., 204 f.; Evolutionisme de 
M. Bergson, 9; "Impossible Anti- 
semitisme," 78 n.; Philosophic de M. 
Bergson, 9 

Marlborough Gallery, London, 150 

Marriott, Charles, 5 n. 

Marsden, Dora, 16 

Martin du Gard, Roger, Jean Barois, 12 

Martin Seeker Ltd., 210 

Marwood, Arthur, 14 

Marx, Groucho, 71 

Marx, Karl (Marxism), 71, 76, 85, 259, 

263. See also Communism, Sociahsm 
Massis, Henri ("Agathon"), 9, 64, 99, 

185, 193 f.; Defense de I'Occident, 13, 

161; Jeunes Gens d'aujourd'hui, 95; 

and Alfred de Tarde, Esprit de la 

Nouvelle Sorbonne, 8, 10, 95 
Matisse, Henri, 121 and n., 138 
Mauriac, Francois, Romancier et ses 

personnages, 231 
Maurier, Daphne du, Mary Anne, 267 
Maurois, Andre, 49 
Maurras, Charles, 9 f., 12 f., 32 f., 35 f., 

38, 64, 68, 78 ff., 82, 83 n., 87, 89 n., 

91 ff., 95 and n., 97, 193, 196, 198; 

Anthinea, 8; Avenir de l intelligence, 

117; Romantisme feminin, 52, 165; 

Vers I'Espagne de Franco, 197 
Maurrasians, 78 

Mechanists, versus vitalists, 227-8 
Melville, Cecil F., 41, 86 
Melville, Herman, Moby Dick, 256 
"Men of 1914," 12, 15 f., 87, 149, 177, 

Meredith, George, 3 n., 14 
Metzinger, Jean. See Gleizes, Albert 
Michaud, Regis, 99 
Michel, Wilhelm, Das Teuflische und 

G rote she in der Kunst, 7 
Michelangelo Buonarroti, 134; "Nude 

Youth," 300 
Michelet, Jules, 1 1 
Middle Ages, 195, 204 f. 
Mill, John Stuart, 82 
Milton, John, 79; Areopagitica, 61; 

Comus, 203; Paradise Lost, 292 
Mitchison, Naomi, 250 
Modern Language Association, 242 
Mom and Co., 265 
Moncel, 12 
Mondrian, Piet, 125 
Monro, Harold, 14 
Monroe, Harriett, 147 
Montague, Michel de, 204 
Montherlant, Henry de, 49 
Montjoie, 138 
Moore, 113 

Moore, George, Modern Painting, 151 
More, Henry, 227 



More, Paul Elmer, 93 

More, Sir Thomas, 171 

Moreas, Jean, 9, 11 

Morgan, Louise, 272 n. 

Morgenstern, Christian, 7 

Morning Post, 239 

Morris, Margaret, 142 

Mortimer, Raymond, 251, 305 

Mosley, Oswald, 73 f., 82 

Mudrick, Marvin, 234, 263 n. 

Muir, Edwin, 166; Structure of the 

Novel, 285 n. 
Munich, 6-7 

Murry, J. Middleton, 116, 189 
Museum of Modern Art, New York, x, 

Mussolini, Benito, 71, 73 f., 80, 82, 86, 

136; "Fascismo," 74 

Nash, Paul, 150 

Nation, 239 

Nation (London), 241 

Nation and Athenaeum, 305 

Nationalism, 82-3 n. 

Neoclassicism, 8 ff., 18, 31, 35, 42, 45 n., 
47, 51, 52 f., 58, 61, 65, 77 ff., 82, 
87 ff., 93, 99-100, 117 f., 136, 146, 
161, 163, 188 f., 192, 306, 310; criti- 
cism of classical versus romantic, 
189-90; civil war among English neo- 
classicists, 190; three periods for au- 
thority of French, 193; WL compares 
with romanticism, 194; Hellenic ver- 
sus Oriental, 195; Hulme's theory, 
195-6; according to Benda, 197; chief 
weakness in French attack, 197; Ger- 
man, 197-8; of Ernst, 198; of Lublin- 
ski, 199; of Lukacs, 199; of Joel, 200; 
WL differentiated from French and 
English colleagues, 202; dependence 
on space, 284 

Negro, WL's opinion of the, 46-8 

Nero, 197 

Nevinson, Charles, 141, 143, 145, 155; 
Paint and Prejudice, 130, 144 n. 

New Age, 11, 15, 98 f., 155, 157 

New Britain, 111 

New English Art Club, 145, 150 

New Europe, 116 

New Freewoman, 16 

New Republic, 121, 239, 251, 308 

New Signatures group, 190 n., 298 

New Statesman, 36, 77, 267, 306 

New Statesman and Nation, 106 

New Verse, 19 n. 

New Weekly, 134 

New Witness, 240 

New York Evening Post, 306 

New York Herald Tribune, 305 

New York Times, 251; Book Review, 

304, 309 
New Yorker, x, 309 
Newton, Eric, 148 
Nichols, Robert, 240 f. 
Nicole, Pierre, 225 
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm (Nietz- 

schean), 33, 52, 68, 90, 94, 131 
Noi, 131 

North American Review, 272 
Norton, Charles Eliot, 36 
Nott, Kathleen, 36 
Nouvelle Revue frangaise, 189 

Oberldnder, Adolf, 7 
Observer, 124, 239, 267 
O'Connor, William Van, 203 n. 
Order, as foundation of good society, 

Original sin, doctrine of, 35 
Orpen, Sir William, 150 
Ortega y Gasset, 91 
"Orthodoxy of the left," 64 
Orwell, George, 67, 70 

Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man, 295 

Pannwitz, Rudolf, 197 

Pantheism, 111-12 n., 120, 138, 153 

Papini, Giovanni, 131, 135 

Parnassian movement, 58 

Partisan Review, 67, 309 

Pater, Walter, 3 n. 

Paul, David, 267 

Paul, Elliot, 22 

Peale, Norman Vincent, 267 

Peguy, Charles, 52, 193; Cahiers de la 

quinzaine, 9 and n., 52 
Petrarch, 195 
Picabia, Francis, 131 
Picasso, Pablo, 117, 121, 122-3, 127, 

Piccadilly Review, 116 
Pinker, J. B., 210 

Pittura futurista: manifesto tecnico, 129 
Plato, 79 f., 178, 232; Phaedo, 39, 301; 

Symposium, 245 


Wyndham Lewis 

Plautus, Twin Menaechmi, 293 

Poesia, 128 

Poets' Club, 14, 130, 144 

Politics, 31 ff. 

Porteus, Hugh Gordon, 16, 93, 184, 239, 
242; Wyndham Lewis: A Discursive 
Exposition, 307 

"Post-Impressionist Exhibition" (1911), 

Pound, Dorothy, 280 

Pound, Ezra, x, 12, 14, 15 and n., 18, 
23, 48, 73 f., 78, 87, 89 n., 90, 97, 
124, 132, 135 f., 142 f., 145, 148 f., 
157 f., 168, 177, 190, 192 f., 198 f., 
203, 206, 210, 220, 234 ff., 239, 242, 
251, 269, 280 f., 285 and n., 305, 307, 
311; strong influence on WL, 16; Col- 
lege of Arts, 145; attacked by WL, 
190; Anachronism at Chinon, 35; 
Cantos, 284, 286; Gaudier-Brzeska. 
A Memoir, 144; Gold and Work, 99; 
Guide to Kulchur, 149, 190; // This 
Be Treason, 147; Indiscretions, 46; 
Instigations, 8; Jefferson and /or Mus- 
solini, 63, 84, 93; "Moeurs contem- 
porains," 281; Personal, 20; Pisan 
Cantos, 144, 146; Spirit of Romance, 
108, 189-90; Townsman, 184-5 

Praz, Mario, 191 and n.; Romantic 
Agony, 191 n. 

Prescott, Harriet Elizabeth, Azarian: 
An Episode, 111 

Prezzolini, Giuseppe, 135 

Primitivism, 119; child art, 119-20 

Pritchett, V. S., 67, 236, 253-4, 308; 
opinion of WL, ix 

Promethean Society, 93 n. 

Protestantism, 67-8 

Proust, Marcel, 162, 179, 189, 225, 270, 
285 and n., 286; Remembrance of 
Things Past, 251 

Pulsford, Madge, 59 

Punch, in 

Quetzalcoatl, 172 

Quinn, John Henry, 17, 143, 219 n. 
Quinn Collection, New York Public Li- 
brary, 5 n. 

Rabelais, Francois, 308 

Racine, Jean, 11 

Read, Sir Herbert, 64 n., 119, 137, 

138 n., 140, 154; Philosophy of Mod- 
ern Art, 86 

Rebel Art Centre, 141 ff., 156 

Religion, and WL, 202 ff. 

Renaissance, 195 f. 

Revolution: and social classes, 65; aUied 
to Protestantism, 78-9 

Richards, Ceri, 126 

Richards, I. A., 254, 297, 298-9 

Rickert, Edith. See Manly, John M. 

Riding, Laura, 166 

Roberts, Cecil, 250 

Roberts, Michael, 11 

Roberts, WilHam, x, 145 f., 150; "Blast 
Vorticism!" 145 

Robinson, Henry Morton, 183 

Rodman, Selden, 137 n. 

Rolland, Romain, 32 

Romains, Jules, 272 

Romance, 78, 188, 211, 235, 258, 265; 
and Sex, as inimical to culture, 51 ff. 

Romanticism, 94, 189; impressionism 
a form of, 115; criticism of classical 
versus romantic, 189-90; WL com- 
pares with classicism, 194; contem- 
porary opposed to Renaissance, 196 
denial of pan-German nature of, 197 
Lublinski's fear of, 199; of Joel, 200 
Lasserre's catalogue of romantic 
characteristics, 201. See also "Time" 

Ronda, 134 ff. 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 62 f. 

Rose, William K., 305 

Rosenberg, Moses (Marcel), 83 f. 

Rosenfield, Leonora, 228; From Beast- 
Machine to Man-Machine, 111 

Ross, Alan, 19 

Roth, Samuel, 168 

Rothenstein, Sir John, 145 

Rothenstein, Sir William, 6, 151, 158, 
236; Men and Memories, 1900-1922, 

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 8, 11, 61, 99; 
tmile, 255 

Rousseau, Theodore, 139 

Royal Academy, 124, 145 

Rudrauf, L., 100 

Rugby School, 5 n., 6 

Russell, Bertrand, 87, 99, 184 n. 

Russolo, Luigi, 129; "Plastic Resume of 
a Woman's Movements," 133 

Ryder Gallery, London, 17 



Sackville Gallery, London, 130 
Sage, Robert, 22 
St. Augustine, 195 
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de, 49 
Saint-Point, Valentine de, 143 
Salmon, Andre, 140 
Salon des Independants, 138 
Sanders, H., 146 
Sant'Elia, Antonio, 135 
Sargent, John Singer, 150 
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 49, 164, 229, 258, 287 
Satire, 211 ff.; its function, to depict 
reality, 212; Jonsonian, 212; must not 
be moral, 213; must be cruel, 214; 
in WL's Wild Body, 111; as Bergson 
sees it, 222-3; a species half way be- 
tween tragedy and comedy, 245; in 
the Apes, 247-54; in "Roaring 
Queen," 252-4; in Snooty Baronet, 
255-7; in Vulgar Streak, 257-8; in 
Revenge for Love, 258-63; in Self 
Condemned, 264-7; in Red Priest, 
Idl; technique of presentation, 269 ff. 
Saturday Night (Toronto), 266 
Saturday Review (London), 305 
Schiller, Johann von, 199 f. 
Scholz, Wilhelm von, 197; Der Besiegte, 

Schorer, Mark, 287 
Schwabe, Randolph, 151 
Sch witters, Kurt, 128 
Scotsman, 239 
Scott-James, R. A., 14; Fifty Years of 

English Literature, 5 n. 
Seilliere, Ernest, 42, 44, 51, 93 f., 100, 
117-18; Mai romantique, 9, 119; 
Origines romanesques de la morale 
et de la politique romantique, 194; 
Pangermanistes d'apres guerre, 185; 
Romantisme, 80 
Severini, Gino, 129, 131; "Blue Dancer," 

Sewanee Review, 285 
Sex, as an enemy of culture, 51-9 
Sexual perversion, 56-8 
Shakespear, Olivia, 291 
Shakespeare, William, 3 n., 157, 199, 
211, 219, 245 f.; Coriolanus, 37; King 
Lear, 86, 247; Othello, lAl 
"Shaman," 57 

Shaw, George Bernard, 66; St. Joan, 211 
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 66 

Shorey, Paul, 170 

Sickert, Walter, 151 

Simon Magus, 230 

Simplizissimus group (Munich), 7 

Sistine Chapel, ceiling, 202 

Situations I, 287 

Sitwell, Edith, 250 n. 

Sitwell, Sir Osbert, 6, 142 

Sitwell, Sacheverell, Canons of Great 
Art, 88 

Sitwells, 5 n. 

Slade School of Fine Art, 5-6 n., 6, 151 

Slater, Montague, 250 

Slocum-Cahoon bibliography of Joyce, 
219 n. 

Smith, Cess, 23 1 n. 

Smith, Lady Eleanor, 84 

Smith Elliot, 111 

Smith, Norman Kemp, 228 

Smollett, Tobius, 251 

Soby, James Thrall, 131, 150 

Socialism, 65-6, 67 f., 71, 260, 262, 303 

Society, foundations of a good, 93 

Socrates, 245 

Soergel, Albrecht, 197 

Soffici, Ardengo, 134 

Soirees de Paris, 138 

Some Imagist Poets, 111 

Soper, Donald, 267 

Sophocles, 199 

Sorbonne, 9 f., 13 

Sorel, Georges, 71; Reflections on Vio- 
lence, 196 

Soviet leaders, 82 

Space and time, 299-300; in experi- 
mental fiction, 284-9 

Special Collections, New York Pubhc 
Library, 219 n. 

Spectator, 116 

Spender, Stephen, 71, 277, 288; De- 
structive Element, 191 n., 283-4; 
World within World, 87 

Spengler, Oswald, 40, 105, 109, 185, 
193 f, 201 and n., 204 

Stael, Madame de, 51 

Stalin, Josef V., 82, 96 

Steer, Wilson, 150 

Stein, Gertrude, 76, 121, 163, 185, 247, 
273 and n., 294 f.; WL's attack on, 
163, 165-7; cult of the child, 165 ff.; 
with Joyce, a chief representative of 
decay in the name of "time," 166; 


Wyndham Lewis 

Stein, Gertrude {continued) 

called a sham, 170; joint defects of 

Joyce and, according to WL, 175; 

Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, 

"Stein-stutter," 273-5 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 118, 135 
Stonier, G. W., 307 
Stone, Geoffrey, 75, 202, 251, 254 
Strachey, Lytton, 254, 266 
Strindberg, Madame, 142, 146 
Strich, Fritz, 10, 13 
Summers, Montague, Gothic Quest, 

191 n. 
Sunday Times, 291 
Swift, Jonathan, 211, 248, 250 f., 289, 

292, 304, 308; Drapier's Letters, 254; 

Tale of a Tub, 254 
Swinnerton, Frank, 100, 251, 253 
Sykes, 219 n. 
Symons, A. J. A., 75, 240 

Tailhede, Raymond de la, 12 

Tarde, Alfred de. See Massis, Henri 

Tate Gallery, London, x, 5 n., 145 

Theophrastus, 238 

Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker, Allge- 

meines Lexikon der bildenden Kiln- 

stler, 5 n. 
Thomas, Edward, 16 
Thomism: WL called Thomist, 202; WL 

indicts, 204; neo-Thomists, 306 
"Time": opposed to intellect, stability, 

and art, 161 ff. 
Time and space. See Space and time 
Time and Tide, 50, 75, 86 
Time Magazine, x 
Times (London), 116-17, 128, 149, 240, 

Times Literary Supplement, x, 191 n., 

209, 220, 240, 251, 263 f., 268, 290, 

Tindall, William York, 88, 99, 169, 173, 

308; Forces in Modern British Litera- 
ture, 1885-1946, X, 146 
Tomlin, E. W. F., 242, 252, 264, 290, 

Tonks, Henry, 151 
Toronto, University of, 48 n. 
Toussenel, Alphonse, 68, 79 
Tragedy: close to comedy and satire, 

245-6; WL's definition, 246; his tech- 

nique, 246-7; in Apes of God, 247- 

54; in Snooty Baronet, 256-7; in 

Revenge for Love, 258-63 
Tramp, 16, 210, 215, 277 
Transatlantic Review, 17 
transition, 22, 109 n., 128, 167 ff., 181, 

273, 295 
Trilling, Lionel, 101, 306 
True, Gonzague, Classicisme d'hier et 

classiques d'aujourd'hui, 166 
Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich, 55; Fathers 

and Sons, 238 

Van Gogh, Vincent, 119 

Van Vechten, Carl, Nigger Heaven, 118 

Vaughan, Keith, 126 

Villa, Pancho, 214 

Villon, Jacques, 140 

Vines, Sherard, 100 Years of English 
Literature, 5 n. 

Vitalists. See Mechanists 

Voce group, 135 

Voltaire, 11, 67 

Vorticism, 111, 114, 120, 124-5, 266, 
277; the "still center at the heart of 
our busy life," 113; damned by Sir 
Herbert Read, 119; much in common 
with Futurism, 127; touched off by 
Marinetti's 1914 lecture, 130; anxious 
to announce art of future but reluc- 
tant to break with past, 131; antic- 
ipated by Cubism, 138; "Vorticist" 
invented by Pound, 143; WL's Vor- 
tex announced by Blast No. 1, 144-5; 
called healthier than Futurism, 149; 
assessment, 150-2; Milton's Lady in 
Comus similar to Vortex, 203; Faulk- 
ner refers to, 203-4 n. See also Great 
English Vortex 

Wadsworth, Edward, 6, 130, 134, 141, 

143, 145 ff., 150, 156 
Wagner, Richard, 130 
Walpole, Hugh, 252 
Ward, A. C, 162 
Washington, George, 72 
Waugh, Alec, Loom of Youth, 49 
Waugh, Evelyn, 84, 252; Vile Bodies, 

152, 266 
Weaver, Harriet, 16 
Weber, Max, Cubist Poems, 17 
Wells, H. G., 87, 95, 130, 250; Tono- 

Bungay, 14 



Werfel, Franz, Barbara, 242 

West, Rebecca, 146, 173, 241 f.; Strange 

Necessity, 176 
Whistler, James A. M., 106 f., 110, 150 
Whitaker's Cumulative Book List, xi 
Who's Who, 5n. 

Wickham, Harvey, Impuritans, 174 
Wilde, Oscar, Decay of Lying, 106 
Wilenski, R. H., "Order and Authority," 

Williams, William Carlos, 145 
Williamson, Hugh Ross, 144 
Wilson, Angus, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, 

Wilson, Woodrow, 63 
Witzbldtter, 1 
Woodcock, George, 309 

Woolf, Virginia, 141, 164, 254, 261, 
271, 273, 283, 307; Writer's Diary, 

Women, obstruction to art, 51 ff. 

Worringer, Wilhelm, 7, 107, 110, 153-5, 
195 f., 249; three kinds of aesthetic 
man, 153-4; Abstraktion und Ein- 
fiihlung, 154 

Wyndham, Richard, 109 

Yeats, William Butler, 40, 88, 125, 135, 
162, 173 f., 192, 250 and n., 251, 
291; Autobiographies, 20; Dramatis 
Personae, 20; "Ego Dominus Tuus," 
20-1; Vision, 20 

Zola, £mile, 118, 132, 164 










Wyndham Lewis, mam 


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